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Foreign policy becoming an embarrassing shambles: Hill



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MEDIA RELEASE SENATOR ROBERT HILL LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Tuesday, July 23 Adelaide 69/91

FOREIGN THTT.TCV RKrfTWTWG AW KMWARRASSIMG SHAMBLES= HTTJ.

The Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Robert Hill, today said the presentation of Australian foreign policy was becoming an embarrassing shambles.

"The spectacle of the Foreign Minister now publicly admitting the indiscretions of his Prime Minister, having earlier denied Australia had anything to apologise for, makes Australia look ridiculous,* Senator Hill said.

"There is no doubt that a number of actions by Australia caused offence to the Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir.

"When the issue first arose, however, Hawke and Evans dismissed concerns on the basis that Dr Mahathir ought not to be offended - all part, no doubt, of what Senator Evans calls 'robust'

diplomacy.

"In November last year when questioned about reports of

diplomatic signals from Malaysia, Senator Evans linked the problem solely to the Australian media, in particular the ABC television drama, 'Embassy'.

"In these circumstances Senator Evans did not believe that any action on the part of the Government was warranted.

"It then became apparent that Australian business interests were being damaged by the failure to acknowledge that in Malaysian eyes there was a real problem.

"Prime Minister Hawke said he would speak to Dr Mahathir in London in June but this had to be cancelled because Mr Hawke

could not afford to leave Australia following the challenge to his leadership from within his own party.

"Although it is clearly a problem at Prime Ministerial level, Mr Hawke has now sent Senator Evans to represent him (an unusual choice in the light of his record during another recent visit which called for tact and sensitivity).

"This is capped off by Evans proceeding to blame Hawke - and we are all made to look silly.

"Grovelling is not the way to carry on international relations, any more than the rudeness exhibited in South Africa.

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COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

"If we want a credible international position and sound bilateral relations we must:

(1) respect the sensitivities of different cultures and different values;

(2) recognise developing problems and the consequences of poor relationships;

(3) act promptly to defuse emerging problems;

(4) look to build a base from which mutual interests can develop so that the difficulties which from time to time inevitably arise are seen against the background of an otherwise solid relationship.

(ends)

Enquiries: Senator Hill on (08) 237 7920