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Deterioration of Malaysia relations cannot be dismissed: Hill



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MEDIA RELEASE SENATOR ROBERT HILL LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS Thursday, March 14 Canberra

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The Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Robert Hill, today said Malaysia's downgrading of ties with Australia should no longer be dismissed with indifference and neglect by the Hawke Government.

Senator Hill said this morning's news about the downgrading showed that Australia's, relations with Malaysia were much worse than the Hawke Government would have us believe.

He said today's revelation must be considered in conjunction with Malaysia's subsequent decision to seek an Asian trade grouping which excludes Australia.

Senator Hill said the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Senator Evans, must take immediate and personal action to restore Australia's relations with Malaysia.

"Senator Evans has failed to pay adequate attention to Australia's relationship with countries in our region such as Malaysia," Senator Hill said.

"Malaysia has for some time been sending signals that it is unhappy with its relationship with Australia.

"These signals have been picked up by the Government, but it has still treated Malaysia with indifference.

"This attitude was typified by Senator Evans in November when he said 'I do not deign to comment' when asked about whether Australia's relations with Malaysia gave cause for concern.

"Senator Evans should now deign to comment and should take immediate and personal action to restore Australia's relations with Malaysia.

"It's important to see Malaysia's concerns in its terms and not just in Australia's.

"Differences on issues such as the television program 'Embassy', harvesting tropical timbers and customs disputes should be capable of resolution with due effort.

"It should be possible to build a stronger relationship and one which can withstand the differences which will inevitably arise from time to time."

Enquiries: Senator Hill or Mark Batistich on (06) 277 3170

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