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Aukland: interview on New Zealand television given by the Prime Minister, Mr John Gorton



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VISIT TO NEW ZEALAND

P

Recorded 30/3/6& Telecast 31/3/60 AUCKLAND

INTERVIEVI ON NEW ZEALAND TELEVISION

GIVEN BY THE PRIME MINISTER, MR JOHN

GORTON

Interviewer : Mr David Beats on 31ST Mt^RCH, 1968

(Beginning not recorded)

PM: ........ It is hard to say what the outcome would be,

but as far as we are concerned, we are predisposed to do what we can to help in relation to what we are asked to do to help by the countries there.

Q. You have expressed a desire to help your good friends and neighbours, I believe as you put it, and you also said there was a limit to what you could spend on defence because of your needs for internal development. Do you think Australia can make a greater contribution to the stability , of the area by stimulating

economic assistance and through trade ties than it can by supplying troops and military equipment to overseas bases?

PM: No, I don't think so, but I think both those avenues of help are necessary, We are trying through trade ties, and indeed we would like to see, through trade ties, assistance and stability, not only for Malaya and Singapore, but for Malaya, Indonesia and

Singapore because these, in our view - with Australia and New Zealand - would form a package. If we can increase the whole of the living standards in the area, the trading possibilities in the area, we think this would be good. But there is also a need for a military presence - or so we were told by those in the area - to provide conditions of stability against subversion, against terrorism,

against the sort of thing that happened In Malaya in the 1950's. So I think both these requirements are there. But It is true, as far as Australia is concerned, we have so many requirements to improve development, to help progress, to look after the aged and

the ill, so many requirements that we can't sort of push everything into just -military commitments.

Q.

Do you feel that the date that Britain has set for her

withdrawal puts the pressure on Australia and New Zealand to make decisions about military involvement in South-East Asia?

PM:

Yes. I think the latest date, If I might put it that way,

which Britain has set for her withdrawal, which is quite different from the dates set for her withdrawal previously, and the doubt which previously wasn't a doubt that there would be a British naval and air contingent there, able to come to the area when they were

asked for, with some real significant military capacity, which now we don't know whether will be there or not; it looks as if it won't, but the withdrawal of that idea, coupled with the acceleration of total withdrawal of grcvnd forces, does provide not only Britain

and Australia, but Britain, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia with problems which obviously weren't there when 1975 was the date for final withdrawal of ground troops and when it was, as we understood It, part of the plans of withdrawal that there would be

a naval and air contingent from Britain available for the area. .../2

-2-

Q. Australia enjoys trade ties with the People's Republic of China to a degree, and also with Japan, another major force in thearea. Do you think that these strings can be drawt together throughyour influence throughout the South-East Asian area to form some sortof mutual assistance or non-aggression agreement which will guaranteethe security and stability of the area?PM:

Well, I think our trade ties with Japan, which are quite

strong, indeed very strong, and increasing - Japan is one of our best buyers of wool, for example - will draw us closer towards Japan, but I don't know that this will contribute terrifically to the stability of the region because Japan is no threat to the stability of the region but

rather Japan is one of the factors which helps towards the stability of the region. Japan is investing heavily in the region, Japan is helping the economies to grow. And so, yes, we will be increasingly trading with Japan. I think Japan will be a 'stabilising force in the

area, but this is just in the course of the things that are likely to happen. Our trade ties with China are mainly that we sell them a great deal of goods, particularly wheat, mainly wheat. We don't buy a great deal from them. I would like to think that China would be

a stabilising influence in the area, but I don't think it will. I hope it will, but I doubt it.

Q.

This week, Mr Gorton, the South-East Asia Treaty

Organisation is meeting In New Zealand. Partnership in SEATO has been a controversial point with many South-East Asian countries. Do you think that in view of the need for new regional defence arrange-ments that we are going to have to look for something new to replace

or supersede SEATO?

PM:.

For what particular purpose? For the purpose of the

security of Australia and New Zealand?

Q. Of the whole South-East region.

PM:

I see. Well, I don't think I foresee an alternative to

SEATO, though it has some difficulties about it, particularly the participation of some countries that are out of the region. But as far as Australia is concerned and New Zealand is concerned, I think the ANZUS pact is the one which provides the greatest security for us.

Q.

Do you think our security really depends on the total

security of the whole South-East Asia region?

PM:

"Depends" is a strong word. I think our security is

affected by what happens in the South-East Asia region here. But assuming that the worst happened in the whole South-East Asian region, then I think our security would depend on the alliance with the United States through the ANZUS pact. Now it, would be much

better, of course, if the worst didn't happen in the South East Asian area, and 'e did not have to depend on the ANZUS pact. But I think the SEATO Treaty Organisation v, ill help to see that the worst doesn't happen in the South-East Asian region.

...../3

-3-

Q. At the moment the ANZUS partners, although perhaps not as such, are involved in Viet Nam and you have said you feel the cost of the Viet Nam operation to Australia must be held.to about the same, level as last year. In view of this, does this

really mean, as . some -critics suggest, that you are 'less enamoured of the United States and more sceptical about the commitment to Viet Nam than Mr Holt your predecessor?

PM: I don't think it does. You said we kept it at the

level of last year. Well, this is not quite true, though I understand how it could be said. , It was, I think, October or November of last year that we increased our commitment to Viet Nam by some one-third, so that now we have got somewhere between 8,000 and 9, 000 fighting men there, which we not only provide but supply with arms and ammunition, aeroplanes,

ships, food, logistics - look after completely. And this is quite a significant contribution from a country of our own size. Now, we are. keeping it at a recently-expanded level. I think that it is a significant contribution and one which is worthy of

an ally to be given, and I would want to think long and hard before any addition to that was made because of the requirements for Australia itself to develop into a significant power as quickly as possible, to meet all its other requirements. I don't believe.

this means that we are less enamoured with the United States. I don't believe it means any indication of diminution of our belief that it was right to go in there to try and give the South Vietnamese

the right of self-determination. It is just a sort of look at what we are providing, of all the other things we need to do, and whether what we are providing in relation to all the other things we need to do is a reasonable contribution. I think it is.

Q. This is an independent attitude, in other words, a

specifically Australian attitude towards the involvement ?

PM: Well, it is, but on the other hand, of course, we

haven't been asked to increase the contribution, but that would be the approach I would have to the situation which, I suppose, you could call an Australian attitude.

Q. Since the military situation in Viet Nam does appear

to have deteriorated quite considerably in the latter part of last year and early this year, do you think the time has now come for the Allies to press more firmly for thorough investigations to open up peace negotiations?

PM: Well, we would certainly want to support any peace negotiations that led to a genuine peace. We wouldn't be interested ourselves for pressing for so-called peace negotiations which, in fact, were not designed to secure the sort of peace in which the South Vietnamese could run their own affairs, but were designed for a disguised surrender to the North. We've

seen countries - I think Laos is an example - where peace negotiations led to a composite government and agreement that it would be run by a composite government, and we have

seen what has happened as a result of that. If we can do anything to achieve ,talks about a peace which will provide the South Vietnamese - without North Vietnamese intereference -

with the right of selecting their own government, and living under that government without fear, then we would be in favour of that kind of arrangement. We are not interested in .../4

- 4-

PM (Contd.) things which are called peace talks but which in fact are surrender talks.

Q. Moving on now to questions on the relationship between Australia and New Zealand, Mr Gorton. New Zealand is one of Australia's major markets. Have you been concerned about the economic conditions here?

PM: Well, the economic conditions here.... no, I can't say

I've been concerned about the economic conditions. Indeed I don't know a great deal. I can't discuss a great deal about the economic conditions,, but you are quite right, New Zealand is a significant market for Australia, and I would hope Australia

would grow into being a significant market for New Zealand.

Q: The point that I make here is that certain measures have

been taken. First of all, the devaluation of the New Zealand dollar which makes imports to New Zealand look more expensive and our. exports look more attractive, and certain other measures which have been to dampen down the demand for imported goods

must have reflected themselves on the marketing trends or rather, the exporting trends in Australia. Has there been any concern about these measures?

PM: No, not particularly. You sep, even though there was

devaluation in the New Zealand currency, it only brought it down to a par, or roughly to a par with the Australian currency which had previously been devalued and the New Zealand currency hadn't, and so in some ways, I suppose, that didn't make it

much more difficult for us. Our trade has been growing - well, perhaps it hasn't been growing but at least it's been fairly constant over the last two years with New Zealand, and if it hasn't been growing, I think it is possibly partly because of

import restrictions which need to be put on in any country when the balance of payments gets out of kilter.

Q. The other question, of course, relating to New Zealand

exports to Australia is that we are a dairy efficient country, and Australia is now engaged on a reform of the dairy industry. In view of the fact that it is obviously going to cost a great deal of money to bring about the reform you envisage eventually, wouldn't it be cheaper really to let New Zealand products in on

the Australian market?

PM: I don't think it would for these reasons. Yes, we want

to reform the dairying industry in Australia because we have got a lot of - I won't call them inefficient - but uneconomic

dairy farmers, and we would like to get them into some other form of production or to get a lot of unecaaomic dairy farmers combined into one economic area. " But even if all the uneconomic dairy farmers went out of production, if all northern production

of dairy products in Australia stopped, the southern areas could produce not only all the butter that Australia required, and probably at a competitive price with the butter from any other country in the world, but would also produce surpluses which

would need to be sold abroad. I don't see, in my forecast for the future, a market opening up in Australia for New Zealand dairy

. . . . /5

- 5-

PM (Contd)

produce. I see Australia and New Zealand working together to try and keep prices reasonable overseas for dairy produce from our joint countries, but the areas where I think the greatest hope lies are in forest products being available in greater quantities

to be sent to Australia and an increase in New Zealand secondary industry, and a market for that seconchry industry in Australia and vice versa. These are, I think, where the real hopes for expanded trade lie.

Q. Can you see really significant opportunities in terms of

this belief of yours that we should be restricted to these two areas for New Zealand's exporting future in Australia when most of our exports are, in fact, primary produce?

PM: Yes, I think I can because I think that the Australian

market will grow all right - it's what, 12 million people now, which is not very large. It will be 25 million before very long, and that will be twice as big a market. New Zealand will have, as it has now, an advantage in that market under the Free Trade

Agreement, and I expect New Zealand will diversify. I expect New Zealand will build up its secondary industries in conjunction with Australia or by itself, and have more of those kind of things to export; Indeed, I think they will follow the same path that

Australia has followed. Once we were entirely dependent on primary industry, r almost entirely dependent. Now we have so diversified, built up so many secondary industries that even the sort of terrific drought we are suffering from now doesn't

have the economic effect on us that it would have had. I know New Zealand will always be dependent to a great extent on primary production and the export of primary production, but I believe that it will certainly greatly expand in secondary

industries, want a market for those secondary industries where it has preference and will get that in Australia. I think that New Zealand and Australian firms will tend to come together in joint enterprises and that this is the area which will expand

for the future for the good of both of us.

Q.

Talking about joint enterprises, there has been a

great deal of talk about union between the two countries. Do you think the time has now come, as some people suggest, that some form of joint secretariat or organisation common to both countries should begin to plan for closer relationship and closer

ties between the development and overall efforts of Australia and New Zealand to penetrate markets elsewhere?

PM: Well, I hadn't thought about a joint secretariat but

I do believe that our defence chiefs in New Zealand and Australia are planning together more than they used to do, that your Prime Minister and my Prime Minister, your Ministers and our Ministers are planning together more than they used to do - not

in the sense of a political union but in the sense of a joint effort. I think this is happening more than it used to happen. I think perhaps it could happen even more in the future. I have read about this proposal for political union between the two

countries. If and when that ever becomes a possibility, it will only become a possidlity if the people of New Zealand say "This is what we want to have at some particular time" and the people

0

n

1

PM (Contd)

of Australia say, "This is fine. We will agree to it at some particular time". But at the moment, what is far more significant than that is that we should plan together in defence, plan together in foreign affairs, plan together to expand our joint trade, plan together

to work together in the region in which we live+

Q. Mr Gorton, thank you very much.

-2-

PM.(Contd.) "He has had to bear immense burdens and make momentous decisions and carry the responsibility for those decisions and I believe he has made them on the basis of what he sincerely believed to be right,

and to the ultimate benefit of freedom inside the United States and outside that country. He is a great man. "

Q.

You are satisfied, Mr Prime Minister, that this

decision will hold and he won't go back on It?

PM:

On reading the words that he used, It seems to me

that they come as close as it is possible to come to the words the previous American President used - who was It - Sherman, I think : "I won't run, and if I am elected, I won't serve". It seemed to me that ..... .

Q. It's final?

PM:

Well, I can only go on the words that he used, but

they seemed to me to be very final words .....

Q. Except for the reason he gave. The one reason

I heard he gave was that he was so busy conducting the war in Viet Nam that he didn't have time to run an election campaign, which did seem to leave the door open a little bit for a draught.

(Interjection) He said at a press conference afterwards - it was on our four o'clock news - that the decision was irrevocable.

PM: I can't comment other than on the words that he

used and they seem to me to be perfectly finite words.

Q.

Mr Prime Minister, in your statement, you point

out where this statement of President Johnson's is consistent with past American statements. In fact, this is an entirely different break in policy as far as we are concerned. 'they have virtually unconditionally elected to cease the bombing. Did this particular move catch you by surprise_ or were.you..expecting'3rfrom the political winds?

PM:

Now, let's analyse a little what you say bef ore I

answer it, if you don't mind....

Q. To put it more Simply, Sir, were you advised in

advance of this major change of policy?

PM: I was told yesterday of the points that were covered

in the President's speech of today. If you will have read the text of the President's speech, he presents this as an advance on his San Antonio speech. In the San Antonio speech, he said : 'T Te are prepared to stop the bombing of North Viet Nam as soon as we

have an indication that North Viet Nam will enter into negotiations as a result". He has gone further than that, one step further than that by now saying, "Well, we will stop the bombing of most of North Viet Nam, even though we haven't got a previous indication that Hanoi will enter into peace negotiations, but we call on Ho Chi Minh to respond to this, and we call on the Co-Chairmen to

ask Hanoi to respond to it. " It is a further step.

...../3

-3-

a You wouldn't-callit a.major-change, then?

PM:

Well, I can only present to you the position as it is

offered-to-Hanoi in the initial statement: "We will stop bombing altogether as soon as you give us an indication that if we do, we will enter into negotiations. " Then that statement shortly afterwards is expanded by another statement saying, "Of course, if we do this and we expect to enter into peace negotiations, we don't

expect the North to take military advantage of it in a great build-up." But it would be reasonable to expect them to maintain the forces they have got there. This Is a further step forward in that he is now not ceasing bombing, but ceasing bombing on a considerable area....

Q. Less ruthless, shall we say?

PM:

Well, it Is closer to the battle area and more designed

obviously to hinder flows of men and materials directly to the North where the fighting is taking place. B ut he is taking that extra step.

Q.

He also says, Sir, just to sort of get back to this

'.'This is the first step in a series of de-escalating the war"....

PM:

He says It may be the first step in a series of

de-escalations....

Q. We don't have the full text....

PM: ...... and he hopes it will be the first step.

Q.

But it is a step towards de-escalation. This is the

important break I was talking about. There have been a series of escalations - military escalations - and this is the first positive and recognisable military de-escalation as distinct from statements of

what we would do or could do. They are actually doing something. Did that particular act ion take you by surprise?

PM:

You are claiming that previous bombing pauses which

have taken place are not to be described as de-escalations because you know that America has stopped previously, and you wouldn't regard that as being a de-escalation?

Q. They didn't call it that at the time.

PM:

No, but they did stop it. I think you should read the

actual text of the statement which is that he hopes that this will lead to rapid peace talks and that they in turn will lead to increased de-escalation.

Q :

On this point - this is "Iffy" of course - If nothing

happened quickly, would you want the bombing to start again, because you say "We must all hope that this response is forthcoming quickly"

PM:

W ell we hope the response is forthcoming quickly

because we hope that the peace talks will begin which is what we constantly wanted.

R If nothing happens?

.../4

-4-

PM: Well, I wouldn't know.

Q.

Will this make any difference to the talks ANZUS

and SEATO are having?

PM:

I would think not. I would think it would have no

bearing on them at all.

Q.

Sir, have you had any impression from America

that if this doesn't lead to de-escalation, it doesn't work out the way the President hoped, it will resume bombing?

PM:

I have only got the text of the President's speech

and the points which v re covered, and they don't extend into that area.

Q.

Sir, the request in the past to be kept Informed of

any major change in policy in Viet Nam and the fact that your two Ministers on Tuesday and Thursday were obviously placed in the position that they went right on a limb on the thing, are there going to be any approaches that we be informed of these things in the future?

PM:

Well, I think we have consistently made it clear ,

indeed as late as the Governor-General's Speech, where it was said in unequivocal language that we would support any moves which were designed to lead to the opening of peace talks, and we expect those peace talks to lead to a real peace which, indeed, is clear. By "peace", I ne an a just and enduring peace, and self-determination for the Vietnamese - a real peace . Indeed, the President's

statement this time indicates that thisis what is being desired, and not something which he describes in his statement as a fake peace. Well we have consistently indicated that we would support those kinds of moves, and I think this is a move along that path.

Q.

Mr Prime Minister, doesn't it seem that the close

consultation that we have always been told this Government has with the American Government wasn't in evidence this time?

PM:

I told you when we were informed of the points

which were to be covered in the American speech, they weren't discussed with us before that time; but as I have pointed out, we have made it perfectly clear that we were prepared to support efforts to reach a genuine peace. This is a step further than the San Antonio speech. It is a step further. The San Antonio speech

was speaking of ceasing bombing altogether, which I think you mentioned. This one mentions ceasing bombing in the highly populated areas, the food-producing areas, but retains it on the approaches to the military field, and it is therefore a cessation of bombing on significant areas of Viet Nam - well, I have put

it in this statement.

Q.

Prime Minister, are you likely to discuss this

directly by telephone or any other way with Mr Johnson to get to his reasoning? You have indicated you only have the text of his speech as we have probably had it.

, ..../5

-5-

PM: Yes, well...

Q.

I thought . you would probably-want-to- know the reasons

behind......

PM:

Well the reasoning behind it, I think, appears quite

clearly in the speech itself. He does hope that this will lead to a reaction from Hanoi, and that it will lead to the opening of peace talks. He expresses in his speech the hope that he will get a

reaction from Hanoi in response to this gesture and that then the question could be open for discussion as to whether the areas that were being still to be bombed for military purposes could be also taken away from bombing, provided certain arrangements were

made. And this is the de-escalation of which you were talking...

Q.

Do you feel there is a necessity to ring him or to

get our Ambassador in Washington to give you a background report or briefing on this?

PM:

Well I don't think it is necessary because I think the

indication is there. When the State Department people told me the points that were to be covered, they indicated to me that this was a hope - in the hope that this sort of thing would follow.

Q.

I presume you will discuss it with Dean Rusk during

your talks with him later in the week, anyway?

PM:

I wouldn't necessarily say that I would or that I

wouldn't. I will be discussing a whole range of matters with Dean Rusk.

Q.

You will have some background material from our

Embassy in Washington, Sir, won't you, before tomorrow's Parliament?

PM:

Well, we have had some background material from

Waller. You can't go much further, I don't think, than what I have told you. That is the background material and the background thinking to it.

Q.

What about the President's health? Do you know

anything about that?

PM:

No, but Waller's views were the same as mine -

there was a question I was asked earlier as to the definiteness of this announcement of not standing - and `Jailer's views were that he believed it was quite definite. Since then, there has been another thing I understand.

Q.

Sir, there are two alternatives in this - either the

North Vietnamese have indicated something or the Americans have made a definite change. You have indicated that this is a new step.

PM: I indicated they had gone one step further. Yes.

Q.

It's about six weeks since I think Mr Rusk finally

rejected the last Vietnamese statement...

..../6

_ _6

PM: I don't know which one you are talking about, John.

Q. It's about six weeks. Now, what is the new factor as you see it in the last six weeks which has influenced the Fresident to make this, what we see as a new step?

PM:

I' m sorry, John, I don't know the statement of Rusk that

you are talking about, but It was, I think, isst August that the San Antonio steech was ......

Q.

Yes, then late in December, the North Vietnamese

Foreign Minister said something - If you stop bombing, we'll talk.

PM: Did he?

Q.

And it took until 14th February to investigate it and say

that it wasn't bona fide: Now, in the six weeks s incd, we have a new factor to make a new step?

PM: I don't have any information - I haven't been given any

by the Fxt ernal Affairs Department that the North Vietnamese have ever made the statement : You stop bombing and we will talk. Rather I thought the statements had been : Unless bombing is stopped, we won't talk.

Q.

Sir, you have indicated that you are quite happy with this.

Some of your Ministers in the past have stro. gly opposed any such move on the grounds........ as recently as last Thursday, the Defence Minister, Mr Fairhall, talking about bomhi:iu ; North Viet Nam at large said that the only thing that made North Vi .t Nam as a whole different

from the demilitarized zone or Laos and "t ': o Ua which were safe havens for the North Viet Nam _troops, was tI' '..-bombing at large of North Viet Nam . Have you discussed th-A. • th them? Are their feelings still the same? Are they still opposed to this?

PM: I haven't discussed the statement with Mr Fairhall.

If you look at practically everything I have said on this matter, either in the Higgins by-election or in radio and television appearances, "Four Corners" and things of this kind, or indeed again, in the Governor-General's speech, or in New Zealand, you will see a consistent thread,

I think, that we don't to destroy North Viet Nam, we don't want to destroy the North Vietnamese Government, We see the value of bombing as to try and hamper and hinder the flow of t-T oops and materials from the North to the South and this is the signific:aa o ; we attach to it. Well that

again, as this statement indicates, is now : _- to be sought to be done by bombing a smaller area than it was be c ;, That is still designed to try to prevent - and we never claimed it di: .:,r e • nt - but to make it difficult,to hamper the flow of men and mete . ;.Y while at the same time freeing the large areas further north f m the danger of attack in

the hope that that will lead to a postive res :or e from Hanoi. Then it could go step by step if that happened. I think that was the reasoning behind it.

Q.

Sir, could you tell me, since you were informed yesterday,

which Ministers have you discussed this with? Have you talked to Mr Has luck?

..../7

-7-

PM: Well, I have been

incable

communication with Mr Hasluck

in New Zealand: I had a word with Gordon Freeth, the acting Minister here, and with a number of officials, and with the Deputy Prime Minister.

Q.

Have you spoke n to any other :R,-ime Ministers like Mr

Holyoake?

rT 0

Q. Sir, how soon do you expect a. positive response from

Hanoi? `ghat would you call reasonable thing?

PM: I couldn't guess. I wouldn't guess.

Q Mr Prime Minister how big do you see this move?

PM: I think it ought to be able to be regarded as a real test

of whether North Viet Nam is prepared to start talking or not.

Q: Would you go further than that?

PM: I think that is a pretty big thing, isn't it?

Q. Do you think there have been steps to peace on an equal

scale?

PM: I think perhaps that this is the greatest concession the Americans have made. There have been concessions, but following on from the thing held out at San Antonio, and the President's speech itself, when you read it all in with the San Antonio one, this is a further concession

than was offered in the San Antonio speech.

Q. IV[r Prime Minister, could you illuminate the section of

the President's statement on troops? - Could you call his attitude now one of having a holding operation?

PM: No, I don't think I would. I think he has indicated a resolve to continue the struggle, and indeed, a resolve to build up the South Vietnamese armed forces, and expect them with the equipment which the United States will provide, to take an even bigger part to provide some reinforcements from the United States itself, and to continue the struggle -I have forgotten the words he used, but the resolve is completely unweakened.

Q. This is directly related to the Tet offensive?

PM: I have seen no indication of it. I car only tell you what

I have been told and what I believe to be the reason behind it. I think the reason behind it is : All right. We will make this further concession. We will go this extra mile.

Q. Do you think the New Hampshire primaries may have had

anything to do with it?

PM: Well, would they have anything to do with it if he wasn't go to stand for President again?

..../0

I)

Q.

Does this leave you in the position that you need to

clarify your thinking on the thing. obviously, yours consisted of a series of impressions as you have told us .today.

PM: My thinking of a series of impressions on what?

Q.

On his official statement and the slight background

given to you by the State Department. Will this speed up any intention on your part to go to the States to talk with him and his authorities? Or will you rely on Mr Rusk here?

PM:

Well, I will be talking to Mr Rusk here. I was proposing

to go to the States quite soon for a rush trip, but they will be engaged in all kinds of various political activities. Now that President Johnson has indicated that he will not be standing again, I will have to consider whether it might not better to do it later.

Q:

Could you indicate when you say'soon " Sir, what your

original plans were?

PM: Well, they were pretty tentative.

Q. You will wait for a new President, then?

PM:

Well, ' this Is the sort of thing I said I would have to take

into consideration. I want to think about it.

Q. Otherwise it could be a trip which.....

PM: Well, there are all sorts of considerations

Q.

In view of the fact that this very latest step was taken

without consultation with the Australian Government, despite assurances we had in 196 after the Honolulu Conference, can we take this as official acknowledgment now that the war has passed out of our hands without even going through the pretence of influencing the course of the

war here?

PM:

Pell, I suppose anybody is at liberty to take ar_ythi ng

at any time in any way they like. Yore you asking me the way I take it or you asking me the way you can take it?

Q . The Government.

PM:

Well, let me make these points. This is not anything

which in any way requires any increased contributions from Australia. This is not something which requires Australia to make some additional effort at all. In those kind of circumstances, I have no doubt whatever that full consultations would take place. T don't expect them to take

place in other circumstances..... if anyone wants to interpret that... This is a further attempt and a further step to see whether they can bring about talks while continuing the struggle in South Viet Nam, wIE ther they can bring about talks leading to a genuine peace. We have

consistently said that we would support such attempts.

0

Q. Have we said what we -think, is a genuine peace?

PM: Yes, we have. I can't remember the words, but a just and enduring peace that really gives the people of South Viet Nam the opportunity to make freedom cf choice. That is it by and large. You will find this firm statement in the Governor-General's 13peech, I think

Q.

On this point of consultation , Mr Prime Minister, are

you then satisfied with the lack of consultation and warning that the Australian Government was given?

PM: I thought I had answered that before in the last question,

indicating that we would support moves leading towards it peace). In the Governor-General's Speech, we said we seek a just and lasting peace based on those objectives. I will read you the whole passage, because it ties in with something you said, Frank :

"My Government believes that the South Vietnamese people should retain the elementary right to determine their own future in their own way and will, besides the effective military assistance it is rendering to this end, continue to provide economic

and civil aid to South Viet Nam.

In doing this, my Government desires neither the destruction of North Viet Nam, nor the overthrow of the Government of North Viet Nam but merely the cessation of aggression against the people of South Viet Nam so that those people may, by the

exercise of a franchise they have shown they know how to exercise even under the most difficult and dangerous circumstances, choose their own form of government. We seek a just and lasting peace based on these objectives. We have supported and will support every effort for negotiation of such a peace. "

Q. Even in the better conditions of peace, as we state them, what are the pre-conditions as you see them for peace- talks? What are the pre-conditions before we get into talks? Are there any?

PM: Well, I imagine a pre-condition is that the Government of North Viet Nam indicates that they are prepared to enter into peace talks.

Q. A cease-fire?

PM: This seems to be the objective, doesn't it? I mean, this

is the objective, to enter into peace talks. This has been, all the time. The United Ctates has been saying, "Well, we'll try this. We'll try that to see whether it results in an indication that the North Vietnamese will begin to talk" Not necessarily before the fighting finishes, but

begin to tale,....

Q. The diplomatic pressure is obviously on them now. There will be some sort of an answer, apparently. If we presume there will be some sort of an answer, I am looking for a minimum pre-condition that we would regard as acceptable. Just a willingness to enter talks? PM: 'vJell, this is what....

Q.

Will we be taking any diplomatic initiative to urge Britain

to follow the President's request to call a meeting, to get moving?

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PM: To call Britain and Russia to get on to Ho Chi Minh?

Q. Are we going to press Britain along on this?

PM: I wouldn't comment on that at this stage.

Q.

What is the difference between this bombing pause and the previous bombing pause? This has been presented as a dramatic move by the US. It has been presented in rather dramatic circumstances with rather dramatic surrounds. But is it essentially any different from the previous bombing pauses?

PM: Well, I think one has to make one's own mind up about this, but previously, there have been .sort of bombing pauses - this is not presented as a bombing pause essentially - but there have been bombing pauses in. the sort of hope that we would see what happened, Now, the -next step was that the President - I am sorry to go over the same ground again - made

the Can Antonio speech in which he said, "We'll stop bombing if you will start talking and not take great military advantage of our stopping bombing" and that didn't seem to elicit any response. Then a number of people around the world said, "Well, give it a go anyway. Stop the bombing and we think

they will probably talk if you do. Give them an opportunity to talk. They said they wouldn't talk if you didn't." This is a stopping of bombing except for the direct military support which is needed. Well, as I said before, it will test whether this does lead to indications of their willingness to enter

into talks.

Q. This also has an element of tick-tacking involved in it. "We'll do this and we expect some gesture on your part and we will do something else." This wasn't apparent in the earlier bombing pauses.

PM: This word "tick-tacd ing" what do you nee an by that? I think it is a sort of indication. All right. Here's a real gesture. Does it elicit any response? If it elicits a response, then we can talk about the next step downwards, at the same time as we are talking about how to achieve a just and enduring peace. The whole thing, I think, is now waiting to

see what sort of a response it elicits.

0. Just on this point of consultations, Sir. Is the point you are making because we have said we support any steps towards peace, there is no need for the United States to come to us and say "We are going to do this because we see this as a step towards peace"?

PM: Well, I was endeavouring to indicate that the United Staten in relation to all the things we have said about supporting steps towards peace and supporting the previous San .Antonio speech of the President, might have thought it was essential fcr long-term prior consultations had there been any alteration the other way, had there been any alteration in

continuing their resolve on the ground in South Viet Nam, altering their approach there, which there is no indication of at all.

Q. It is just that in the reassessment that went on, one would have thought they would have said to the other nations fighting : "What are your views as to the conduct of the war and how it is going?" before they made the unilateral decision.

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Q. Particularly in the light of the fact that our Government, the Australian Government has consistently claimed that one of the motives in bombing was to save Australian lives.

PM: Well, the bombing is still going on in the areas where there is a military build-up - put it this way, the bottlenecks; the trails along which men and munitions have been flowing down to the south, and that is why the same approach you have just said,quite properly, is the

Australian Government's approach, is why the American President said "I couldn't in all conscience prevent that part of the bombing" because it would tend to help our people being killed.

Q. Sir, in the last paragraph of y ^t ment today you talked about not leaving allied troops at too great a isadvantage. Isn't this an admission that the cessation that is being allowed will do just that?

PM: 4.%!f'il do just what?

Q. Leave our troops at some disadvantage...

PM: Oh. You read out my statement which said this is not leaving our troops at too great/ `$isadvant age and then suggested my statement was saying it did just that, that it did leave them at too great a military disadvantage, It doesn't. But clearly there would be some military loss because you are not bombing arms factories, barracks and roads and bridges further north, so there would be some diminution of the effort

in that direction, and that, I think, indicates that this is a real gesture on the part of the United States.

Q. Would it seem, Sir, ii this gesture does succeed, even more Australian lives will be saved?

PM: You mean if it moves step by step long term, and you reach the logical goal of having a real peace which gives them a chanc ;, well you don't have people killed when you reach a real peace.

Q. You don't see it in any way what the Americans have done about bombing as a public admission that their bombing policy has failed?

PM: I don't think it is a public admission at all. I think it is a genuine attempt, as the President has said, to make this move in the hope that it will lead to Hanoi entering into these talks whereas previously , and this is the significant change that we've been talking about, he has said we would like an indication of entering into peace talks before we make the

next move. Now that is a significant change indeed.

Q. Do you propose a debate on any stE Cement you might make on this to the House?

PM: I don't believe I would be proposing a debate. I will probably make a statement to Parliament, but then it is open to debate....

Q. You will make a further statement tomorrow?

PM: I think tha t would be the reasonable thing to do. Q. The way will then be open for the Opposition to reply?

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PM: V ell, there could be a debate on this. Yes.

Q. Has the Foreign Affairs debate finished?

PM: Well, I have been away. I haven't caught up with it. We only got back yesterday afternoon. I had to do a little work yesterday after we got back and I haven't had time to get round to.....

Q: It was adjourned, Sir, on the motion of Mr Giles.

Q: Will you have an early Cabinet meeting to present this to Cabinet?

PM: Well, we will be having a Cabthet tomorrow in the normal way, but what this would call for is not a Cabinet discussion?

Q. Sir, personally, do you feel optimistic about the outcome of this ?

PM, Ch, I am not going to speculate on the future. Sorry, I just can't

speculate on this one .

Q. Can you say anything now about the ^111? Remember you were asked yesterday and you said .....

PM: No, I'm sorry I can't. But Mr Fairhall is coming up here. He will probably be able to say something about it. He has indicated to me that he will be getting reports from the United States authorities on whatever it was that happened. Nobody seems to be quite sure yet what

it was.

Thank you.

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