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Tuesday, 20 November 1973
Page: 3502


Mr SINCLAIR (New England) - Neither in the style nor in the substance of his foreign policy has the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) or the present Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) been able to provide certainty for members of this Parliament, for the people in this country or for our friends in other countries. Today, more than at any other stage, we are in the position where we are uncertain as to where the policies of the Prime Minister are leading us. If there were ever a need to assert this, following the reference to the pseudonym of Mohamad Ali, now is the time. One saw in the inferences that could be drawn from the Prime Minister's speech today the degree to which this man, strutting the world stage much like a peacock, attempts to influence others and to persuade himself but lacks the substance to back his arguments.

It is unfortunate that today the Prime Minister has suggested that those problems of uncertainty are not felt outside Australia. Why, only a few weeks ago the *China Mail', one of Hong Kong's 4 English daily newspapers, carried an attack on Mr Whitlam. The article was written by a staff writer, Mr Dennis Mullen, and it was headed 'Mr Upstart Down Under'. Another article, which was written by Derek Round, of Hong Kong, is headed: 'Gough - Bashing Time in Asia*. That article contains direct and substantial references to the degree to which the style of the Prime Minister has destroyed Australia's position abroad.

Closer to home, the Prime Minister has defended his relations with Dr Adam Malik, the very distinguished foreign Minister of Indonesia. The Prime Minister's visit to Indonesia was more distinguished by his attacks on Dr Adam Malik than by any other aspect of that visit. Indeed, that visit did more to destroy Australia's image in Indonesia than any visit made by any other Minister or Prime Minister in recent years. In the Sydney Morning Herald' of 24 February 1973 Mr Brian Johns wrote a wrap-up report of the Prime Minister's visit to Djakarta after the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Dr Malik, made it known that Indonesia was opposed to the Prime Minister's proposal. The article states:

The Prime Minister reacted angrily - very angrily - when he first heard reports of the report soon after Dr Malik's briefing on Wednesday.

That night Australian Embassy officials - and members of Mr Whitlam's party - were telling Australian journalists, that Dr Malik was 'unreliable', erratic and out of favour with the Indonesian Government'.

How is that for the style of a man who is the Prime Minister or Foreign Minister? What a way in which to treat the Foreign Minister of our closest neighbour and a former chairman of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East.

On 1 March the 'Australian Financial Review* reported:

Australian diplomats in Singapore and South East

Asian capitals are working overtime to try to erase the false impressions arising from Prime Minister Whitlam's 3-day visit to Indonesia.

So much for the close ties that the Prime Minister claims that he has now re-established with Dr Malik and with Indonesia.

Indeed, this seems to be the pattern of the man's behaviour in the foreign policy arena. Having offended so many, he then seeks to pour oil over troubled waters and to try to reconcile a country's attitude to himself and to his Government. Unfortunately, the uncertainties created by the constant change from familiarity to contempt are such that the uncertainty is generated, provoked and extended rather than ameliorated. Indeed, one of the basic problems of the man is that he fails to appreciate the elements of diplomacy itself. The Prime Minister is not now in the chamber, but perhaps for his reading later I will read into Hansard some quotations from a book entitled 'Diplomacy' by Mr Harold Nicolson. He states:

These, then, are the qualities of my ideal diplomatist. Truth, accuracy, calm, patience, good temper, modesty and loyalty. They are also the qualities of an ideal diplomacy. 'But' the reader may object 'you have forgotten intelligence, knowledge, discernment, prudence, hospitality, charm, industry, courage and even tact'. I have not forgotten them. I have taken them for granted.

How much better our foreign policy would be if any of these qualities were possessed by the man who was Foreign Minister and today is Australia's Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister stated that outside this chamber and in Australia no doubts are cast as to the substance and direction of Australian foreign policy. Only a week ago in this House I asked the Prime Minister whether he had read an article written by Professor Arthur Burns, Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University, which appeared in the 'Bulletin* of 10 November. It referred to the new Russian threat. In the article, Professor Burns, who has been one of the leading figures in the Australian Labor movement, asserts his concern at the direction in which the foreign policy and the defence policy of Australia are taking us. He asserts his concern at the degree to which there is a potential nuclear war between the major powers of the world. He stresses his concern not only at the situation in the Middle East but also at the deteriorating situation between the Soviet Union and China and their constant border confrontations, with 67 divisions from each force facing one another across the boundary between the 2 countries. He suggests that the loss of control of affairs, even by the 2 major powers, makes the necessity for the development of Australia's relations with the United States even more urgent than it has ever been before. Yet it is in that area and in the substance of foreign policy that I think all honourable members of this Parliament and ali Australians must have the greatest concern.

The new aspirations of the foreign policies of the Labor Government have generated a complete redirection of Australia. That redirection has taken us away from a premise of regional security and of developing friends and allies and close associates in the areas that surround us towards the presentation of the Prime Minister as a mini-Kissinger trying to participate in the solution of world problems. On the Prime Minister's many visits, accompanied as he is in his semi-presidential style around the world, he has asserted that Australia's role as being greater than we believe it should be at this stage. I believe it is important that not only in our relations with Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines, but also in our developing relations with the about-to-be independent Papua New Guinea, we should pursue a policy that maintains the line that has been so well and effectively presented for so long - the concept of regional security, which we should not forsake. If one particular bent of the Labor Party's foreign policy has emerged it is certainly this intention to try to assert Australia's role in the world beyond our immediate neighbourhood.

The Prime Minister, in each of his visits as Prime Minister, has attempted not to visit those countries which are our neighbours, but to bypass them. His visits have been rather to countries further afield. In particular his journeys to China, Japan and Ottawa have been seen as an assertion of Australia's role not in our immediate region but in the world beyond that immediate area. The consequence of this for Australia is quite frightening, both in the defence and in the foreign policy sense. If we wish to assert and to maintain an independent competence, if we want to be seen and respected as a nation, it is important for us to be seen and accepted in the region which is our geographic site. If we are not accepted by our neighbours as friends and if we are suspect because of the policies, the statements and the prejudices that come from the members of the Whitlam Ministry as well as from the Prime Minister himself, it not only weakens our capacity to play a greater role in the wider world but it also weakens our own security and the stance that we believe we should have with those countries which over the 2 decades of Liberal-Country Party Government were seen to turn more and more to Australia as a leader in things that affected them.

It is important that we should look at both the style and substance of the foreign policy of this Labor Government. In the style we have had constant assertions by the Prime

Minister on the degree to which he has been able by personal discussions with world statesmen to influence their attitude to world events. Yet in the presentation of the substance of this policy we have had a weakening of our ties with those who had been our traditional allies - in particular, the United States and the United Kingdom. But more importantly and more significantly geographically at a time when Australia is becoming more competent and more respected in itself, it is losing respect because of the presentation of a policy which is denying the right and the role of this concept of regional security in the sphere of our principal influence. It is in those 2 areas that I believe both the Prime Minister and the Labor Government deserve to be condemned.







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