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Wednesday, 16 May 1973
Page: 2169

Mr Ian Robinson (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of his reply yesterday contradicting his earlier answer on the granting of a visa to Mr K. T. Li, will the Government accept as binding all future representations from the People's Republic of China even when, as in this instance, they conflict with the publicly expressed position of the Australian Government? Will this in future apply in all fields of foreign affairs? Further, will the Prime Minister explain why he allows the People's Republic of China to dictate to Australia in matters of this kind? Has he noticed that similar attitudes are not imposed on the United States by the People's Republic of China?

Mr WHITLAM - The honourable gentlemen seems to have a basic misunderstanding of this situation. The United States recognises the Government in Taipei as the Government of the whole of China. Australia and most other countries, including practically all those between Australia and China, recognise the Government in Peking as the Government of the whole of China. In those circumstances, governments of any of the countries will accept visits from officials of the government which they recognise and will not accept visits from officials of a government which they do not recognise. If Mr Li had been content to come here as a private citizen, which is all that he was understood to be, then he could have got a visa when he applied for it. Before he applied for a visa, the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party, undoubtedly with the noblest of motives, thought that he would help in his visit by disclosing the fact that he was a Minister of the Government in Taipei. When this cover was blown, then the inevitable consequences followed.

I would like to ask honourable gentlemen to contemplate what would have been the situation if a year ago my predecessor had been asked to a meeting and there was at that meeting a Minister of the Government in Peking who had come under another guise.

My predecessor would have taken the proper course dictated by the relations between the Government in Taipei and the Government in Canberra and have said that the Minister from Peking could not come under that or any other guise. The situation has changed; the principles endure. Accordingly, I did the only thing which a Minister of the Australian Government could have done in the circumstances. The Deputy Leader of the Country Party, as I said yesterday, blew the cover, and accordingly a visa could not be granted.

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