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Statement by Senator V. C. Gair (Leader, D.L.P.)



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PRESS

RELEASE

THE SENATE

Senator The Hon. V. C. GAIR

Leader Democratic Labor Party Phones: Canberra. 705 Ext. 523 Brisbane, 310101 Ext. 436

Embargo - not for release until 7^p m.Sund Sunday January,1 9th, 1969.

On the occasion of the inauguration of the new President of the United States, Mr.Richard Nixon, the D.L.P. feels it appropriate to recall the importance of the Australian-American alliance for a relatively small country in a turbulent part of the world1an alliance with a powerful peace-keeping nation like the United Status is an important element of Foreign Policy. --.-• --•----- -- — __ _ _._. _._._---•—._... _ ..

Australia and the, U.S. have a shared interest in the containment of Communism and the preservation of the independence of the small peaceful non-communist countries on the rim of China.

Our men have fought with theirs in Korea and now in Vietnam to give substance to our oommon aim$. But it is not enough to look at history.

The Australian-American relationship is moving into a now era. Britain is getting out from the Malaysia,Singapore, Indonesia area and taking away the powerful forces which so successfully thwarted Sukarno's aggression and therefore contributed so much to the stability of the region. -Americans are fed up with the burdens of Vietnam which they have carried almost alone and are therefore very impatient for a settlement, They will not easily be brought to the defence of other South-East Asian countries.

At the same time the forces for peace and resistance to aggression have been weakened in this part of the world,expansionist influences a.re as strong as ever.

China shows no signs whatever of moderation and is steadily accumulating nuclear weapons to back her throats; the Russians are extending their influence into the Indian Ocean; North Vietnam has large numbers of her troops in Laos and Cambodia as

well as South Vietnam. -

Together with China she is supporting guerilla wars aimed at the overthrow of the Governments of Thailand and Burma.

In these deteriorating circumstances the Australian-American alliance is something which needs to be celebrated in the substances not -the rhetoric.

Every democratic political party in Australia gives the. Alliance li p service.

The D.L.P. is sad to find itself alone these days in having a coherent programme to give the Alliance substance.

The A.L.P. of course has consistently worked to undermine the Alliance,from wanting to stop the construction of the North West Cape communication station to demanding precipitate withdrawal of troops from Vietnam.

Now unfortunately Mr. Gorton appears to be trying to drag the Government Parties towards policies which would quickly erode the Australian-American alliance.

He wants to avoid responsibility for the defence of Malaysia and Singapore, he puts a financial ceiling on Defence spending limiting the contribution Australia can make to any collective American-Australian military operation. And he does nothing positive by way of initiative to help build the regional structure we need for self defence in South East Asia.

A man of drift, he does nothing to adapt Australia to changing international circumstances.

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The D,L.P. proposes that the Government adopt a five point policy to

give substance to

the Australian-American_ alliance in the years ahead:

(1) A clear statement by Australia that it is prepared to take some responsibility for the defence of South East Asia in the 1970's Specifically that it is ° prepared to maintain a military presence in Malaysi&,Singapore and Thailand to help those countries defend themselves. "Fortress Australia' must be

renounced in specifics as well as in principle.

(2) A programmed enlargement and strengthening of Australia's defence forces. As the United States Congress Defence Postures Committee recently noted, Australia at present does not have tha military capacity to make more than a token contribution to collective defence efforts with the United States. An enlargement of the defence budget is absolutely essential to the health of the Australian-American alliance.

(3) Active diplomacy for regional co-operation among the non-communist countries of Asia to build a structure for collective defence. This must include efforts to develop military co-operation with Japan.

(4) Expanded aid and investment in Indonesia to ensure a healthy economic environment there and trade opportunities for Singapore p Malaysia and Thailand.

(5) A trade agreement with the United States to eliminate destructive squabling over changes in the terms on which our primary products enter the United States,

Unless Mr Gorton is prepared to follow these lines, it will be difficult to take his pronouncements on the U.S. Alliance any more seriously that pronouncements by the A.L.P. Leader.

(Further information Phone J.T. Kano, Sydney 71.6663).