Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Situation in Indo-China

Download PDFDownload PDF

(File 166/75)


MEDIA RELEASE: April 1 *75


Statement by The Leader Of The Opposition, Mr Malcolm Fraser

■ * The immediate tragic events in Indo-China as Communist

forces over-run Vietnam and Cambodia must raise grave · doubts about the Whitlam Government' s Foreign Affairs /V / . ' and Defence strategies, based as they are, on no

·//·; foreseeable threat to Australia for the next 15 years.

. Political realities have now discredited the Government's

policies. The developments to our Near-North show that

the Whitlam policies have been, built on a false and .

unrealistic premise. The Labor strategy assumed a stable · world and an era of goodwill between all countries.

This is patently nonsense, as demonstrated by events not

only in Indo-China but also in the Middle East. '

The world is displaying its inherent instability and its

incapacity to protect the weak. - Detente has not been achieved in any certain or lasting fashion and, regrettably,

the United Nations is not proving as effective as many

of us would have:hoped. ' · ·

. The whole of South-East Asia is affected and concerned

by the military and political developments in Indo-China.

• The Labor Government has made much of its new style of

. foreign relations and its increasing influence in

sensitive parts of the world. In fact there is great

disillusionment among our friends in South-East Asia

and the Pacific.. ·


Indo-China ...2

Australia has appeared preoccupied with its overtures' to

China and Russia and indifferent to the agression in

Indo-China. . .

Why didn't the Labor Government try to use its .good offices

and influence to help avert this tragedy? -

Did the Prime Minister seek to blame Saigon and Washington for breaking the Paris accords because he did not want to

offend China and Russia by a proper allocation of the blame?

The Prime Minister conveniently avoids the fact that the North Vietnamese army in South Vietnam has doubled since

the Paris accords were signed. , s '

I doubt whether the hundreds of thousands of refugees . .

fleeing South to escape the advancing Communist armies

would agree with Mr Whitlam when he says that it is Saigon and Washington who have been the main offenders in breaching the accords. .

. There are many . things which the Australian Government : . could have done to help avoid the mass human, tragedy in'

Indo-China. ·

For many weeks Australian diplomats have been advising Canberra of the impending disaster. The Government

could have been making its voice heard in the relevant capitals and in the United Nations.

It could have begun making detailed plans to organise aid and support for the refugees. Instead it chose to do nothing.

When the Government did take some action last weekend ■

it was a futile and pathetic gesture - too little too late.

Indo-China . 3

It offered Hercules aircraft to assist with an

evacuation which was already doomed because the North Vietnamese invaders were closing in on DaNang airport.

These developments must be of immense concern not just

for peace and stability in our region alone. An agreement

which people hoped was. signed in good faith - the Paris Accords - has been t o m to shreds by North Vietnam.

Why is Mr Whitlam silent on these matters? Is it

really Dr Cairns who dictates Foreign Affairs when

important ideological issues are involved.

Dr Cairns,who seems to be acting as Australia's Foreign

Affairs Minister, has indicated that the Paris accords

could never work and he is virtually exultant at the

prospect of a North Vietnamese victory.

Dr Cairns portray ed himself as a great humanitarian when

he led the Moratorium marches. -.He was concerned for peace and goodwill. It now appears he is much more

concerned for a communist victory. .

Where is his humanitarianism now : where is his concern

for peace? . . .

f ' ‘

His main concern at this time appears to be the quick

defeat of South Vietnam and Cambodia and the equally

expeditions recognition by Australia of Communist Governments in those countries.

What is happening in Cambodia and South Vietnam is just

one part of the total pattern in South East Asia. .

There are clear implications for Thailand and Malaysia.

There will be implications for Singapore and Indonesia which cannot yet be fully foreseen. ·

Indo-China ... 4

The Government appears to have deliberately denied the

Opposition adequate information on the deteriorating

situation in Indo-China. '

For this reason the Opposition Parties have sent their

own mission to make an on the spot assessment-especially

of ways in which Australia can step up assistance to · the refugees. '

This mission is due back next Sunday (April 6 ) and

will report the same day to a meeting of Shadow Cabinet . in Canberra. '

I expect the mission to make positive proposals about ' assistance for refugees. .

Apart from Australian assistance, our Government should

be raising the matter in the United Nations. This .

organisation should be encouraged to act on behalf of

the refugees in Indo-China. '

The United Nations has not. been very successful, in . dealing with past disputes, particularly when

super-powers have been involved. But Indo-China

presents a real opportunity for the world body to act

in the interests of humanity.

If it fails to act effectively it will disappoint

many, including myself, who want to see the world

body working for the b enefit of all peoples and all. nations.

The Australian Government has been silent on the

Indo-China tragedy for too long. It is a contemptible

silence at a.period when communist aggression is

leading to communist victory. .

If it were aggression of another kind, leading to

another kind of victory, the Government would be protesting

at the top of its voice. Its standards on Foreign Affairs

are double standards. · .

Indo-China ... 5

The opposition parties would, and do, condemn aggression

of any kind, by any party, against any nation.

But the Government's condemnation is selective, it is partisan, it is des igned to placate its new found friends in Moscow and Peking.

Further Information: Liberal Party Secretariat

. Tel: 732564 A.H. 82 1105

49 7647