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ALP left challenge to US ship visits must be rejected by Hawke government

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The 1 atest Left wing challenge to American ship visits to West coast ports must be promptly rejected by the Hawke Government " the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Fred ’

Chaney, said today.

"Failure to do so will provide further evidence of the less than whole hearted support which Labor has given the United States alliance.

"Labor's controllers in Western Australia will not be satisfied until Australia emulates New' Zealand and imposes conditions which make visits by Allied naval vessels quite impossible,

"The suggestion by a committee of the WA party, endorsed by the State Executive, that there should be less frequent visits by American ships is but the thin edge of the wedge.

"It is quite absurd to suggest that ships of the American navy, most of which are on station in the waters of the north Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean should be forced to travel thousands of kilometres to east coast ports."

Senator Chaney was speaking at a meeting of the Fremantle branch of the Liberal Party. ,

"The economic benefits which these visits bring to Fremantle and other centres is obvious and has become important in its own right," he said.

"But much more important is the fact that our ready acceptance of ship visits is a way in which we can contribute to a stronger alliance relationship,

Australia alone does not have the resources to comprehensively patrol the waters to our West and North-West.

"But by allowing rest and replenishment visits by these ships we can play our part in maintaining an effective Western alliance presence in the region.

"There is absolutely no doubt a clear majority of West Australians are firmly in favour of such visits. ■

"The report on ship visits is just another example of how far out of touch with public opinion is the WA branch of the Labor Party.

"Defence Minister Beazley must stand up to his local branch colleagues and make it clear that the Federal Government will not contemplate acceptance of such a suggestion.

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"This is a matter which should not be left on the books until the next Labor conference,

"It should be disposed of without delay if Australia is to retain credibility as an Alliance partner."

Contact: . Keith Kessell (09) 325 8179

Perth 5 August 1985