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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 2627

Mr COOKE (Petrie) - I am a latecomer to this debate but I have been provoked by the pathetic attempt by the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison) to gloss over the disarray of the Government's foreign policy. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), in his capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs, has had many overseas trips since becoming Prime Minister last December. Each of those trips was heralded by a great fanfare of trumpets before he left, but each has been shown to be a disaster on his return home. I remember his first excursion to South-East Asia. He put forward some proposal for a nuclear-free zone, but it went over like a wet blanket among the other heads of state to whom he spoke in South-East Asia. They began to wonder just what this chap was on about and which side he was on.

Then we had the experience of his going to Mexico and trying to sell a proposal to the Mexican Government that it should form some cartel with Australia to keep control of and put pressure on the consumers of raw materials. That proposal took off like a lead balloon. He proceeded from Mexico to Washington where he had a grudging interview with some minor officials in the State Department and a short interview with the President, brought about because of the suggestion that it would be a great embarrassment to Australia's Prime Minister, having arrived in Washington without an invitation, to be left sitting in the cold.

What did he do then? From Washington he proceeded to New York where he commenced to insult his host, the President of the United States. He offered suggestions on how he should run his government. He had the hide to come into this House yesterday or this morning and criticise other people, the Premier of Queensland for example, for making comments about the Australian Government while they were abroad. I can well remember supporters of the

Government when they were in Opposition last year making a regular practice when they were abroad of criticising the Australian Government and, ipso facto, the Australian people who elected that Government. I remember that Dr Cairns went to Fiji and criticised Australia and its government. Members opposite went to New York and criticised the Australian Government and the Australian people. They went all over the world criticising Australia, yet now they have the hide to complain when other people take a lesson from their book and do the same.

To advert again to the Prime Minister's overseas visit, he proceeded to the Prime Minister's Conference in Ottawa. What did he do there? He gave Mr Trudeau some helpful hints on how he ought to be running Canada. He gave Mr Heath some helpful hints on how he ought to be running the United Kingdom. He gave Mr Lee a few hints on how he ought to be running Singapore. I suggest that none of those gentlemen would be prepared to have tea with the Prime Minister, let alone have any civil words, with him after his performance in Ottawa.

Goodness only knows what will happen when the Prime Minister and his entourage don their tails and silk hats and go next week to Japan. What a line up of intelligentsia he is taking with him. He will have with him the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) and a battery of high powered diplomats. They will go to Japan and probably move through that country with the delicacy of a herd of elephants in a china shop. This is the attitude of the Government to foreign policy. It is an attitude which is bringing Australia into disrepute not only in this region of the world but also throughout every other country.

Mr DUTHIE (WILMOT, TASMANIA) - What is wrong with going to Japan?

Mr COOKE - There is nothing wrong with going to Japan, but I forecast that the delegation to Japan will open its mouth and put its foot in it at least once while it is in Japan. I only hope it will have the courtesy not to do it in the Imperial Palace. This is the sort of disrepute to which the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) referred in his speech on these estimates. It is a deep-seated objection which the Minister for External Territories completely avoided mentioning. He put his head in the sand, made a few silly fourth form remarks about the comments of the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) and proceeded to dismiss, pretend to misunderstand and be stupid about the comments of the honourable member for Chisholm. If this is the fashion in which foreign policy in Australia is to be conducted all one can say is heaven help the country. All one can do is look forward to an early election date when this gang opposite can be thrown out.

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