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Prime Minister addresses Indonesian Parliament

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22 February 1973


. ' Following is the text of an address by the Prime Minister

and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Whitlam, to the Dowan . Perwakilnn Rakyat Republ.ik Indonesia. (Indonesian Parliament) in Jakarta today. The speech was delivered at about 1600 hours . Canberra time.

I am profoundly moved by the honour you have done me,

and through me, my Government and nation in inviting me to address

you. . . .

When a little over two months ago I became Prime

Minister, as leader of t^e majority party in the Australian

Parliament, I placed a visit to Indonesia at t^e very he^d of

my nriorities. I was highly gratified by the warmth of President

Soeharto’s invitation. I and those travelling with me - members

of my family, my staff, and my officials - have been deeply

touched by the hospitality and generosity with which we have all

been treated.

This visit comes at a time of great change - of great;,

change in my own nation and of great change in our region. I want

to emphasise,, however, at the outset, that my visit symbolises

continuity as well as change.

. . ./2

' In June last year my predecessor as Prime Minister of

Australia, the R t , Hon. William McMahon, visited Jakarta and

addressed this assembly. On his. return to Australia he told the

people of Australia, as I shall tell them, of the friendship

which the people and Government of Indonesia had extended to him

and through him, to Australia. Mr McMahon was able to report

that at the official level, his discussions had further advanced

co-operation between our two countries. . . '

There was and is no partisan dispute in my country on

this matter. The change of Government has made no change in

Australia’s desire for the closest co-operation with the Government

and oeople of Indonesia. .

I know that that wish is shared by the Indonesian

Government and ueople. Australian-Indonesian friendship is a

constant factor in a .changing region and a changing world.

The new Australian Government has made manj^ significant

changes in Australia's international relations. It would have been

strange indeed had it not been so, for my Government was elected

by the people of Australia with a mandate for change - for changes

at home and abroad. You will recall that my party - the Australian

Labor' Party - had been out of office for 23 years, having lost· ,

power before Indonesia finally won her great struggle for , .

independence. '

. . «/ 3

; As an example of the changes that have taken place,,

I cite the record of Australia's voting in the United Nations

General Assembly. In the 1971 General Assembly, Australia

voted against- three resolutions on Southern Africa and three ·

others concerning the Indian Ocean, apartheid and self­

determination all of which Indonesia supoorted. But in the

1972 General Assembly, immediately after my Government took

office, Australia voted affirmatively with Indonesia on each

of these resolutions. On all important issues of race,

decolonisation and self-determination, o ur'voting now.accords

with Indonesia's. ' . ■ .

On the day that I was sworn in as Prime Minister-'

of Australia I made this statement to our people, which sums

up the general approach of my Government. I said that I .

v/anted ·

"An Australia which will enjoy a growing standing

as a distinctive, tolerant, co-operative and well

regarded nation not only in the Asian and Pacific "

. region, but in the world at large."

I will return later to the role of middle powers in

the world at large. Let me say something first about our

relations with our neighbours and our region. In the distant

past Australia tended to ignore South-East Asia. Generations

ago, we were still largely a European outpost, a part of the

old British Empire, with our loyalties and oreoccupations in

Europe alone. In the past 20 years we moved to an opposite




■ Influenced by. such events as the Chinese revolution

and the war in Indo-China, we became preoccupied, even obsessed,

with South-East Asia as Australian frontier, ever) a front­

line for our security. This led us into military involvements'

and military pacts that are no longer relevant to the contemporary

needs of Australia or the region in which we live. ’

In the wake of a Yict-Mam settlement, it is my hope

that we will see South-East Asia in a calmer, more constructive

perspective. We-want our attitude to be based less on irrational

fears for our security, and directed more to peaceful political

initiatives for the welfare and nrogress of our neighbours.

My Government believes that it'has a responsibility

to take a generous cart in any international effort for the

social and economic rehabilitation of Indo-China. There are

several reasons why such resnonsibility devolves on us.

Australia was one of the belligerents, although my

Government has withdrawn all its forces from Viet-Nam and ended

its military involvement. Over and above that, we are the .

richest member of the community of nations in the South-East

Asian region, with a strong interest in the welfare of our

neighbours'. ■ '

• .V ' ■

We believe that the problems that you and other

nations of the region face now are human and social problems,

oroblems that are common to all mankind. How best to raise

your standards of living: how to bring literacy, cultural and

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educational opportunities to your people: how to control the

growth of population and the environmental problems it will

bring in its -wake as your cities become more industrialised:

how best to make use of the foreign aid resources at your

disposal to overcome poverty and disease. It is in these

areas country is most anxious to help. We note the ■

measures you are now taking to achieve population control. .

We would welcome, if your Government desires it, a long-term

study of the whole concept of foreign aid to determine how

best to apply it to urgent human, and social needs.

Last month I visited New Zealand v/here a new Labor

Government has also been elected. The New Zealand Prime ·

Minister, Mr Kirk, and I expressed our intention of working with

our Asian and Pacific neighbours in making adjustments to

existing arrangements and seeking new forms of co-operation.

We see great merit in an organisation genuinely representative .

of the region, without ideological overtones, conceived as an

initiative to help free the region of the great power rivalries

which have bedevilled its progress for so long, and which would

be designed to insulate the region against ideological

interference from the great cowers. I must emphasise that

such an objective is one which would take time and careful

consultation with all of our neighbours. ■

; There is one very great change about to occur in

our region of very special importance and interest to Indonesia

and Australia equally. Indonesia and Australia at present — *·’ · ' · "

a common border - the border between Indonesia and Papua New

Guinea. Before long that will no longer be true. Indonesia

will share that border with an independent nation, the nation

of Papua New Guinea. . .

. I have just visited Papua New Guinea to explain my

Government's plans to the neople there. What I have tried to

put to them is that a decision about inaenendence is not just

a decision on behalf of Papua New Guinea. It is also a decision

on behalf of Australia. It involves - in a very real sense -

Australia's vision of herself in the world. To put it plainly,

Australia is not willing any longer to rule a colony. . .

. . We regard it as unacceptable that Australia, of all ■

countries, should be one of the world'-s last colonial powers.

It would be incredible if the Australian Labor Party, which, in

its last Government, wholeheartedly supported the cause of

Indonesian independence, were to accept willingly a colonial

role for herself in the 1970s. . '

It is not only a question of our responsibilities to

the neople of Papua New Guinea, it is not only a question of

our clear responsibilities under the United Nations Charter,

it is a question of our responsibilities to ourselves. '",

' ·,·

. We are d e t e r m i n e d that we shall be true to o ur selve s

and d i v e s t A u s t r a l i a of the colon ia l taint. This in no way

m e a n s that we are g oing to wash our hands of our responsibilities

towards the people of Parma New Guinea. We freely ana gladly

accept that for many,, many years to come, Papua New Guinea will

need· continuing and substantial assistance from Australia. She

shall have it - and this again is a policy which.would, not be

changed even if.there were a change ip the Government of Australia,

But' our true, role is as a friend and. neighbour,, not as a ruler. .

■ ; · I believe that Indonesia can. also play a valuable part ·

as Papua New Guinea's friend and nearest neighbour.. I hope the

people of Papua New Guinea will look to Indonesia as an example

of how peoples of different cultures and customs, of different .

languages, of different religions, at widely different stages

of .develonment spread over a vast, divided and difficult terrain,

can come together, live together .and grow together as one great

nation. . . . · ■ ' ' ' · ■"

. . ' . If.I.might sum up the general lines that my Government

will follow, I should like to quote a brief passage, I wrote

18 months ago when in Opposition, for a book outlining for the

people of Australia, the lines a Labor Government, if they

elected one, would pursue. I v/rote then: .

"Essentially, a nation's foreign policy depends upon

.a balance between commitment and power. Australia's first and ■

.. fundamental commitment is ta our own. national security. This is

a commitment quite commensurate with our power and our resources.

. Our second commitment is to a secure, united and friendly ·.

Papua New Guinea. This too is well v/if'in our nower. Our lack

of wisdom and foresight, rather than any lack of tower and

is our real danger in this case. ' .


. · Our third commitment is to achieving friendly relations

with our nearest and largest neighbour, Indonesia. .

. . Our fourth commitment is more general, because in t h i s .

context our power becomes more generalised - it is our commitment

to the peace and. prosperity of the immediate region. Clearly

our ambitions and aspirations on this level run beyond our actual

power. Even so, we are far more influential, than mere numbers '

would suggest .... . . . . ' ·

• . Our fifth commitment is to our own reputation: our ·

power in this case lies in our will, not our resources. This . .

taint of racism must be removed if we are to be a good neighbour

in our region." ' _ .

These are the five great pillars on which my Government /

proposes to establish its international rel a t i o n s . But it is

not merely to ourselves, or even simply to our own region, t h a t .

our ultimate commitment lies. Our ultimate interests lie in

helping to nreserve stable and peaceful relations between the

great powers. In military and industrial terms, Australia

and Indonesia can both perhaps be described as middle powers.

We have a common interest in seeing-that stable balance is

maintained betvzeen the great rowers - China, the Soviet Union,

Japan, the United States - on whose decisions the peace of the

world will principally d e n e n d . As middle p o w e r s , we can both be

active in working for peace and understanding in the world at

large. It is in this broader context that I see the need for a

fresh and independent policy for Australia in international r e i s '*


It is in this context that I see great new opportunities for

co-operation with Indonesia.· . . . ,

: ■ · . · . ' Once more let me express my deep gratitude for the manner ·

in a n d .the Government and people of Indonesia have

received me. I am glad to have the opportunity so early in the

life of my Government to. reaffirm the existing links between our '

two countries and to. forge new and stronger ones. . ,

■ . Living as we both do in a region which is in m a n y ·w a y s ·

the world's most turbulent and economically deprived, we cannot

ignore the very great difficulties and complexities which lie . . .

ahead, for. us and for our neighbours. Yet, even so, it is

impossible not to hold real hope for the future, even while .

acknowledging the dangers. '

. There is a very real prospect that there will be no

major international conflict in our neighbourhood in the foreseeable

future. The region has seen 30 very dark and troubled years. It

would be naive to believe that we are now entering a period of

profound peace. But at least we may look forward to a period of ■

comparative oeace - uneasy, fragile, imperfect perhaps, but if

we have the will and determination, it will be enough to allow us

to create the conditions in our region by which we can reduce the ' - , _ ■ - ■ · . ■ ' v»*> .

scourges of poverty, starvation and suffering, m that war - a

war that is really v/orth waging - I profoundly believe our two

great countries will cement a deep and enduring, an. unbreakable

partnership.. . ·