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Mr Whitlam's overseas visit, April 1973

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M/7'7 1 May 1973



Attached is the text of a statement * delivered

to the House of Representatives on 1 May 1973 by the

Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs,

Mr E.G. Whitlam. ' ' ■

I wish to report quite briefly to Parliament .on the '

.overseas visit from which I returned yesterday, .Subject to the -

. requirements of the legislative program, I hope later in the

session to be able to make a comprehensive statement to the House

on the broad perspectives of the Government’s foreign policy.

Honourable Members will know that I led the Australian

Delegation to the Fourth Meeting of the Pacific Forum from t

. 17 to 19 April in Apia, Western Samoa. For the first time there,

, seven Commonwealth countries were represented by their Heads

: . of Government, as were the two countries with observer status,

• Papua New Guinea and, Niue. Through leading the Delegation to

' this meeting myself I wished to emphasise the very deep interest

. which the Government takes in the affairs of the South P a c ific. '

. The Australian Government seeks to play a. co-op'erative and

' helpful role in this area but in no way wishes to dominate in

the region. . . ’ ·

. ‘ The Forum itself is so arranged that the great differences

, in size and economic strength' between Australia and New Zealand .

on the one hand and the Pacific Islands on the .other can be

ameliorated by meeting as equals in its informal atmosphere.

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; · I believe that on this occasion, as b e f o r e , the meeting

■ of the Forum was useful and successful. I am sure that these

meetings will continue to consolidate regional co-operation betv/een

Australia and New Zealand and the islanders in the South Pacific.

At its first session,.the Forum adopted a Joint

Declaration deploring French nuclear tests in the Paci f i c , This

declaration was an Australian initiative fully supported by the

Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr Kirk, and promptly agreed to ■

by all other members of the Forum. We hoped that a declaration

. would have more impact than a reference in the. communique. We

were able to cable this declaration to Paris on the first day of

the meeting while, the Attorney-General, Senator Murphy, was there,

for the talks which he was conducting at that time with the French

Government. · · . . ' · ■

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• The Forum also requested me to take up with the British

Government later in my visit the question of French tests in the

Pacific, since that Government is responsible for dependent .

territories in the area including Pitcairn Island, the British

Solomon Islands Protectorate, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands

Colony and, in part,. the. New Hebrides. This 1 did. . ·

I was also pleased to announce to the Forum a voluntary

contribution of $NZ250,000 for 1974. . T h i s .contribution, which is

made to the South Pacific Commission, is· in excess of our assessed

contribution and in addition to :the $A15 million three-year aid

program announced in 1972. .

■ Fiji, and other members of the'Forum, also accepted an

Australian proposal that there should be a conference of Labour

Ministers from Forum countries to discuss labour and related . '

matters in Australia-later in the year. .

I also indicated Australia's willingness to organise

an international training course in export development for the

island members of the Forum in.Australia in. November.

I left the Forum for Vancouver and London before the. .

final day, on which the Special Minister of State led the Australian

Delegation. .

In Vancouver, the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr Pierre

Trudeau, extended to me the courtesy of meeting me in Vancouver

for private talks while my aircraft was in transit.'

. The value of these' talks was in no way diminished by .

the informality of the occasion and they confirmed my long-held

belief that there are many areas in which Australia·and Canada

should co-operate more closely than in the past. We face similar

problems in relation to our need to improve the status of our

Aboriginal people. We face similar problems related to Foreign

ownership and foreign investment. ■ We can, I believe, develop

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.fruitful and more regular consultations on trade matters of

common interest, our approach to questions in the United Nations,

and law of the sea and multi-national corporations»

I have arranged with Mr Trudeau that our Governments

should consult more closely and directly on these matters and .

that we should telephone each other as a.matter of course when

matters of. mutual interest arise which affect Canada and '

Australia. ' . .

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Before going -into details, about my London discussions,

I would like to place on record the Government's general approach

to relations with the United Kingdom. . ·

The Australian Government's aim'is to make our

relations with Britain an integral and important part of our '

general international relations and no.t something apart as they

have tended to be in the past. . . .

■ . Our relationship with Britain is inevitably changing.

The changes we have made or propose to make on such matters as

the powers of the Governor-General, appeals to the Privy Council,

a new national'anthem, .the Queen' s Style and Titles and the '

amendment of the oath of allegiance are in no way directed

against Britain. They are solely intended to put o u r .relationship

on a more mature and contemporary basis and to reflect the

development of a more a.. dependent Australian identity in the

world. Indeed, what the Australian Government is seeking to

achieve in its relations not only with Britain but with a number

of other countries - the United States,. China, Canada, and ou.r

Asian neighbours, for instance - is to give formal recognition

to what has already happened, as the necessary foundation for a

realistic, more independent, more mature foreign policy. What

v/e seek to do is no artificial convulsion of contrived nationalism

This is certainly well understood and appreciated in London.

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; . My talks with Mr Heath, Sir Alec Douglas Home, Lord '

Carrington, Lord Hailsham and other Ministers covered a wide

range of matters of mutual interest in the foreign affairs,

defence and constitutional fields. . .

' I explained to Sir Alec Douglas Home and other .

Ministers and officials the decision of the South Pacific Forum

in relation to French nuclear tests. I said that I wgs not

speaking only on behalf of Australia but of the. seven countries

of the Forum, all of which were associated with .the Commonwealth.

' I indicated that the Forum countries believe the United Kingdom

. should talk to the French. This would appear to be a natural

consequence of our close Commonwealth relations, of Britain's

major role in the negotiation of the partial Nuclear Test Ban

Treaty and of its responsibilities,, as an administering power,

in respect of a number of Pacific territories. Honourable "

Members will be pleased to know that Sir Alec Douglas Home said

- he would study the views expressed at the Pacific Forum meeting

· and by myself and that he would draw'them to the attention of

the French Government. Sir Alec also pointed out that the

. United Kingdom had already urged the French to sign the partial

■ ' Nuclear Test B a n Treaty. ·

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. . In R o m e I w a s r e c e i v e d b y H i s H o l i n e s s the P o p e in

p r i v a t e a u d i e n c e . I r e g a r d m y s e l f a s p r i v i l e g e d to h a v e b e e n

a b l e to d i s c u s s m a n y m a t t e r s w i t h t h i s g e n t l e a nd w i s e man.

■ H e w e l c o m e s the e s t a b l i s h m e n t b e t w e e n A u s t r a l i a a n d t he V a t i c a n .

o f d i p l o m a t i c " r e l a t i o n s , as a .convenient m e a n s o f c o m m u n i c a t i o n

a n d as f a c i l i t a t i n g the p r a c t i c a l m a t t e r s w h i c h n e e d to b e

t r a n s a c t e d . T h e H o l y F a t h e r said, h o w e v e r , t h a t e v e n t h i s

s e n s i b l e d e v e l o p m e n t of d i p l o m a t i c m a c h i n e r y c o u l d n o t i n c r e a s e

the d e p t h of h i s r e g a r d f or A u s t r a l i a a nd i ts p e o p l e , a n d the

w a r m t h of h i s r e c o l l e c t i o n s o f h i s v i s i t to t h i s c o u n t r y .

I t o o k a d v a n t a g e o f m y b r i e f v i s i t to R o m e to c a l l .

o n t h e s e n i o r I t a l i a n m i n i s t e r i n R o m e d u r i n g m y v i s i t , S i g n o r

C o l o m b o , w h o is, as h o n o u r a b l e m e m b e r s w i l l k now, the· .

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predecessor of the present Prime Minister of Italy, Signor . '

A'ndreotti, who was away from Italy. Signor Colombo has an

especially high reputation in E.E.C. circles.

I outlined to Signor Colombo the present Government's

thinking on foreign policy m a t t e r s . I found a close id entity,

of views between our two Governments on all matters which we

discussed, for example, the recognition of China and North ‘

Viet-Nam. I a l s o ·explained to Signor Colombo our attitude to

continued French nuclear testing in the Pacific. I posed the

question to him that, if the tests were as'clear and as harmless

as the French suggested, then could they not be conducted in

Corsica. . .

' I was given to understand in clear terms that the'

Italian Government understood the concern of Australia, New ·

Zealand and the Pacific Islanders in a continued atmospheric

testing in the Pacific and I was left in no doubt as to.what

the reaction of Italy would be if the French were to conduct

nuclear tests in the Mediterranean. . ' -

On the way home I had talks in Mauritius with the

Governor-General and the Prime Minister and Leader of the

Labour Party, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam. I told the Prime

Minister that we would welcome Mauritian representation in '

Australia and, apart from our need for area consultation, the

opportunity that this might provide to tell Australians of the

great pleasure they could derive from visiting the star and

key of the Indian Ocean; that we were happy with the way in

which the 26,000 migrants from Mauritius have settled without

difficulties in Australia. I also assured"- the Prime Minister ·

that our modest aid program under the Special Commonwealth

African Assistance Plan would c o n t i n u e , and offered further

assistance, in the trade promotion field and marketing. ' .

I raised, as I.did in each country I visited, the

question of French atmospheric, nuclear t e s t s . The House will

understand that traditional French .influence in Mauritius is

substantial. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister indicated that he

would consider what he might say on this matter when he visits

Paris shortly, a n d , in the meantime, indicated that he would have

the question raised with the French Ambassador in M a u r itius, The

Prime Minister is' clearly aware that, travelling as it does from

west to east, fall-out from French testing affects his country as

much as it does ours. .

In conclusion, I would inform the House that during the

14 days I was away, including Easter Week, I believe 1 was able to

emphasise our growing i n terest·in regional co-operation in the ■

South Pacific, to take steps to put our constitutional relationship

with the United Kingdom on a more mature and rational basis and -

to clear away any misconceptions■that may have existed about our ■

relations with the United Kingdom, to establish as Prime Minister

personal contact with Her Majesty the Queen and the Pope, and to:

pay a goodwill visit to the small but important Commonwealth

country of Mauritius. ' . . ■

In each of the four areas in which I stopped, the South ·

Pacific, the United Kingdom, Italy and Mauritius, I was able to .

outline the general direction of the Government's foreign policies

and the more independent stance we are taking in four diverse and

widely separated areas, of the world.