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Prime Minister's misleading of the Parliament



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13th AfUiiJ-, 1975·

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PRIME MINISTER'S MISLEADING OF THE PARLIAMENT

SPEECH BY MALCOLM FRASER

THE PRIME MINISTER HAS MISLED THIS PARLIAMENT AND

THE PEOPLE.

THIS DEBATE CENTRES ON THIS ISSUE AND THIS ISSUE ALONE.

I HAVE NO DOUBT THE PRIME MINISTER WILL TRY HIS DESPERATE

BEST TO CONFUSE AND DEFUSE THE ISSUE AND THAT HE WILL

SEEK REFUGE IN THE GAG, IN PAST HISTORY, IN HAIR-SPLITTING

SEMANTICS AND OTHER DIVERSIONARY TACTICS.·

BUT NOTHING CAN CHANGE THE FACT THAT THE PRIME MINISTER

MISLED THIS PARLIAMENT - KNOWINGLY AND DELIBERATELY.

HE TOOK THIS COURSE BECAUSE HE WAS NOT PREPARED TO

SPEAK PLAINLY TO THE AUSTRALIAN PEOPLE OF HIS POLICIES

AND OF HIS BIAS TOWARDS COMMUNIST NORTH VIETNAM. THE

EVIDENCE IS CONCLUSIVE. .

THE INDICTMENT IS BASED ON FOUR SETS OF DOCUMENTS WHICH

SHOULD BE READ IN CONJUNCTION TO ESTABLISH THE PRIME

MINISTER'S RECORD OF DUPLICITY.

1. THERE ARE THE CABLES WHICH HE SAID WERE SUBSTANTIALLY

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THE SAME AND WHICH HE SOUGHT TO HIDE FROM THE AUSTRALIAN

PARLIAMENT AND PEOPLE. THE CABLES ARE NOT SUBSTANTIALLY

THE SAME. THEY ARE SUBSTANTIALLY DIFFERENT. TO CLAIM

OTHERWISE IS BLATANT EVASION. IT IS UNTRUE.

2. THERE WERE THE MARCH 13TH LETTERS, LEAKED BY THE

PRIME MINISTER'S DEPARTMENT AGAINST THE PRIME MINISTER'S

OWN ALLEGED PRINCIPLE OF KEEPING COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN

GOVERNMENTS SECRET. THEY WERE MEANT TO EXPLAIN AWAY THE

DIFFERENCE IN THE CABLES. IN FACT, THEY CONFIRM THE

SUBSTANTIAL DIFFERENCE.

3. THERE IS THE LETTER OF DR. CAIRNS' · ADDRESSED TO THE

NORTH VIETNAMESE CHARGE D'AFFAIRES IN REPLY TO A LETTER

OF THE 1OTH OF JANUARY FROM THE NORTH VIETNAMESE. THIS

LETTER PROVES THAT THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT HAD ALREADY

ACCEPTED NORTH VIETNAM'S ABROGATION OF THE PARIS PEACE

AGREEMENTS FULLY TWO MONTHS BEFORE IT CALLED ON SOUTH

VIETNAM TO OBEY THEM. ■

4. THERE IS A DEPARTMENTAL DOCUMENT DATED 3QTH JANUARY. 1975.

WHICH IS AN ACCURATE RECORD OF THE PERFORMANCE OF NORTH

AND SOUTH VIETNAM AND THE PROVISIONAL REVOLUTIONARY

GOVERNMENT CONCERNING THEIR ADHERENCE TO THE PARIS AGREEMENTS.

THAT DOCUMENT IN MANY WAYS IS MORE DAMAGING THAN THE

LETTERS AND THE CABLE. IT SHOWS THAT THE NORTH VIETNAMESE

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• . ./3

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VIOLATIONS OF THE PARIS ACCORDS WERE MUCH MORE SERIOUS

THAN THOSE OF THE SOUTH. IT SHOWS THAT THE PRIME MINISTER

WAS PREPARED TO IGNORE OFFICIAL EVIDENCE, THE ADVICE OF

HIS OWN FOREIGN AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT , IN THE PROCESS OF

MISLEADING THE AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENT AND OF SUPPORTING

THE CAUSE OF NORTH VIETNAM.

THE INDICTMENT

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THE MISREPRESENTATIONS, THE DECEPTION, DID NOT BEGIN ON

APRIL 9TH WHEN HE TOLD US THE CABLES WERE SUBSTANTIALLY

THE SAME. IT BEGAN EARLY IN THIS SESSION WHEN HE INFERRED

THAT SOUTH VIETNAM AND THE UNITED STATES WERE IN PRINCIPAL

BREACH OF THE PARIS AGREEMENTS. THE DECEIT HAS BEEN

CONTINUOUS.

THE PRIME MINISTER'S DECEPTION HAS BEEN AIDING AND ABETTING

COMMUNIST NORTH VIETNAM AND THE PROVISIONAL REVOLUTIONARY

GOVERNMENT IN THEIR WAR AGAINST SOUTH VIETNAM. .

TO DO THIS, HE WAS PREPARED TO BETRAY THE INTERESTS AND THE

WELL-BEING OF HUNDREDS OF SOUTH VIETNAMESE REFUGEES. HE PERSONALLY.

DELAYED ACTION FOR THREE WEEKS - DESPITE APPEALS FROM COLLEAGUES

AND OFFICIAL ADVISERS - AND ESTABLISHED GUIDELINES SO LATE

IN THE DAY AND SO NARROWLY DRAWN THAT VERY FEW REFUGEES

WOULD QUALIFY. OUR EMBASSY WAS ALMOST OUT OF SAIGON BEFORE .

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THEY WERE GIVEN THE TASK OF PROCESSING THE APPLICANTS.

HE WOULD NOT TAKE THIS MATTER TO THE UNITED NATIONS.

HE WOULD NOT TRY TO MARSHALL THE CONSCIENCE OF THE WORLD.

HE WENT OFF TO PERU HOPING THAT THE PROBLEM WOULD DISAPPEAR.

BUT IT DOES NOT. HE IS SHAMED AND EMBARRASSED BY THE

PROSPECT OF SOME THOUSANDS OF SOUTH VIETNAMESE REFUGEES

MAKING THEIR OWN WAY TO OUR SHORES. THEN - AFTER HAVING

LONG REFUSED TO REFER THE MATTER TO THE UNITED NATIONS -

HE SAYS SO LONG AS OTHER COUNTRIES ARE INVOLVED AUSTRALIA

WILL BE TOO'. WHAT COMPASSION 1 WHAT HUMANITARIAN!SM1

WHAT ABOUT THE VIETNAMESE ABANDONED IN SAIGON - THOSE WHO

HAD CLOSE TIES WITH AUSTRALIANS AND MOST DESERVED OUR HELP?

THEY WERE VICTIMS OF THE PRIME MINISTER'S POLITICALLY

MOTIVATED p r o c r a s t i n a t i o n , t h e y w e r e r e j e c t e d b e c a u s e

TO HELP THEM WOULD HAVE MEANT LOSS OF FACE WITH HANOI.

THE FACT THAT THE PRIME MINISTER WAS PREPARED TO SUPPORT

NORTH VIETNAM AND BETRAY SOUTH VIETNAMESE REFUGEES IS,

HOWEVER, INCIDENTAL TO THE CENTRAL CHARGE AGAINST HIM -

THE CHARGE OF DECEPTION OF THE AUSTRALIAN PEOPLE.

WE ARE CONCERNED WITH DECEIT AND DUPLICITY THAT WILL

HAVE FAR REACHING IMPLICATIONS FOR THE PRIME MINISTER'S

REPUTATION IN AUSTRALIA AND FOR HIS DEALING WITH OTHER

• ../5

COUNTRIES

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THE OPPOSITION DOES NOT CONDEMN FLEXIBILITY AND PRAGMATISM

IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS, NOR DO WE CONDEMN PROPER RELATIONS WITH

COUNTRIES HOLDING TO DIFFERENT IDEOLOGICAL BELIEFS. WE

DO NOT WISH TO TEAR UP THE RECOGNITION AGREEMENT WITH CHINA,

WITH NORTH VIETNAM AND WITH NORTH KOREA.

BUT WE DO CONDEMN DECEIT AND DOUBLE-DEALING. SMOKESCREENS

SUCH AS THE HISTORY OF VIETNAM CANNOT AND WILL NOT BE ALLOWED

TO OBSCURE THIS INDICTMENT OF THE PRIME MINISTER.

LET ME NOW GOME TO THE EVIDENCE. I WILL DEAL FIRSTLY WITH

THE CABLES.

THE HANOI CABLE

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IN HIS CABLE DATED THE 2ND OF APRIL TO HANOI, THE PRIME MINISTER,

WHO WAS ACTING MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AT THE TIME, SAID:

"WE WOULD GENUINELY LIKE TO SEE IN SAIGON A GOVERNMENT WHICH

WILL GENUINELY NEGOTIATE FOR A REUNIFICATION AS PROVIDED FOR

IN THE PARIS AGREEMENTS. WE APPRECIATE THAT THIEU (SOUTH

VIETNAM'S PRESIDENT UNTIL HIS RESIGNATION ON APRIL 21ST)

HAS GIVEN NO INDICATION THAT HE IS WILLING TO DO THAT AND

THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT UNDERSTANDS THE SENSE OF FRUSTRATION

WHICH HAS GIVEN RISE TO RENEWED RECOURSE TO MILITARY PRESSURE

ON THIEU ALTHOUGH IT CANNOT CONDONE THAT RECOURSE".

LET ME EXAMINE THE IMPLICATIONS OF THOSE WORDS. THE PRIME

MINISTER IS THEREBY CONDEMNING THE SAIGON GOVERNMENT AND

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PLACING THE BLAME ON IT FOR FAILURE TO NEGOTIATE AND

TO ABIDE BY THE PARIS AGREEMENTS.

BY IMPLICATION, THE PRIME MINISTER IS SAYING THAT

BLAME SHOULD NOT BE ATTACHED TO HANOI OR THE PROVISIONAL

REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT. THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT

RATHER "UNDERSTANDS THE SENSE OF FRUSTRATION"1

THE PRIME MINISTER GOES ON TO OFFER THE PROVISIONAL

REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT OF SOUTH VIETNAM SOME PUBLIC

RELATIONS ADVICE. HE SAYS "... THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT

BELIEVES THAT IT WOULD HAVE A MOST FAVOURABLE EFFECT IF

THE PRG WERE TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT RECENT MILITARY OPERATIONS

HAD HAD THE AIM OF APPLYING PRESSURE TO SECURE THE

OBSERVANCE OF THE IGNORED POLITICAL PROVISIONS OF THE PARIS

AGREEMENTS AND THAT THE OPERATIONS WOULD CEASE WHEN

SATISFACTORY ASSURANCES WERE OFFERED BY SAIGON THAT THESE

POLITICAL PROVISIONS WOULD BE IMPLEMENTED".

THAT WAS GRATUITOUS ADVICE INDEED WHEN IT WAS THE PRG

WHO HAD IN FACT BROKEN OFF THE TALKS ON TWO GROUNDS,

BOTH OF WHICH WERE CONTRARY TO THE PARIS AGREEMENTS.

THE PRG HAD EARLIER BROKEN OFF THE TALKS DURING 1974

AND REFUSED TO RESUME UNTIL PRESIDENT THIEU RESIGNED AND

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UNTIL AMERICAN AID TO SOUTH VIETNAM HAD CEASED

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WE KNOW WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF PRESIDENT THIEU

HAD RESIGNED. THEY WOULD THEN HAVE SAID, "OH NO, WE

WILL NOT NEGOTIATE WITH YOUR SUCCESSOR, WE WILL ONLY

ACCEPT ABJECT AND TOTAL SURRENDER". THAT IS WHAT

HAPPENED WHEN PRESIDENT HUONG REPLACED PRESIDENT THIEU,

WHEN PRESIDENT BIG MINH REPLACED PRESIDENT HUONG.

A CONCESSION WAS MADE, A FURTHER DEMAND WAS THE RESULT.

OUR PRIME MINISTER OFFERED. PUBLIC RELATIONS ADVICE TO THE

PROVISIONAL REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT ON HOW THEY COULD

EXPLAIN TO THE WORLD AND JUSTIFY THEIR MILITARY OPERATIONS.

WAS THE PRIME MINISTER THEREBY HOPING THAT HE WOULD FIND

IT EASIER TO EXPLAIN TO THE AUSTRALIAN PEOPLE HIS OWN '

UNDERHAND SUPPORT FOR THE COMMUNIST NORTH VIETNAMESE?

THIS INFAMOUS CABLE TO NORTH VIETNAM CONTINUED WITH THE ’

PRIME MINISTER SAYING THAT HIS GOVERNMENT WOULD URGE .

ON THE THIEU GOVERNMENT, "THE NECESSITY OF CARRYING

OUT IN GOOD FAITH THE PROVISIONS OF CHAPTER 4 OF THE PARIS

AGREEMENTS ESPECIALLY ARTICLE 12 ON THE NATIONAL COUNCIL

OF RECONCILIATION AND CONCORD".

AS IT WAS THE PROVISIONAL REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT THAT HAD

BROKEN OFF DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF

THE COUNCIL, THE PRIME MINISTER OUGHT TO HAVE ADDRESSED

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THAT REMARK TO NORTH VIETNAM AND THE PRG AND NOT TO HAVE

MADE IT AS A POINT OF CRITICISM AGAINST SOUTH VIETNAM.

HE GOES ON TO SAY IN THE SAME PARAGRAPH THAT HE, THE PRIME

MINISTER, WOULD BE URGING THE THIEU GOVERNMENT TO IMPLEMENT

CHAPTER 5 ON REUNIFICATION. CHAPTER 5 IS THE ONE WHICH

INDICATES THAT THE REUNIFICATION OF VIETNAM SHOULD BE CARRIED

OUT STEP BY STEP BY PEACEFUL MEANS ON THE BASIS OF DISCUSSIONS

AND AGREEMENTS BETWEEN NORTH AND SOUTH VIETNAM WITHOUT

COERCION OR ANNEXATION BY EITHER PARTY AND WITHOUT FOREIGN

INTERFERENCE.

WHY WASN'T THAT POINT PRESSED ON NORTH VIETNAM AND THE PRG

WHOSE FORCES HAD BEEN INCREASED FROM 145,000 TO 400,000 DURING

THE PERIOD OF THE AGREEMENT? WHOSE COUNTRY WAS UNDER ATTACK?

THE PRIME MINISTER'S OWN FOREIGN AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT

CONDEMNED NORTH VIETNAM IN RELATION TO THOSE PARTICULAR

DEVELOPMENTS.

THE MAIN POINT TO BE MADE ABOUT THIS PARTICULAR CABLE IS

ITS UNDERSTANDING AND ITS VERY REAL SYMPATHY FOR THE CAUSE

OF THE NORTH AND THE EMPHASIS ON CRITICISM OF THE THIEU ; ■

GOVERNMENT.

THOSE CRITICISMS SHOULD MUCH MORE APPROPRIATELY HAVE BEEN

DIRECTED TO NORTH VIETNAM AND THE PRG. BUT THEY WERE NOT

MADE AGAINST NORTH VIETNAM OR THE PRG. THE CABLE SHOWS THE

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PRIME MINISTER'S PARTISAN LEANINGS AND HIS PERSONAL .

AND SECRET SUPPORT OF THE COMMUNIST NORTH.

THE PRIME MINISTER'S APOLOGISTS HAVE TRIED TO MUDDY

THE WATERS BY MAKING AN ISSUE OF THE FACT THAT HIS HANOI

CABLE HAD INSTRUCTED THE AMBASSADOR TO MAKE REPRESENTATIONS

AS SOON AS POSSIBLE TO THE DRV AND THE PRG, WHILE THE

SAIGON CABLE SAID: "WE WISH YOU TO TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY

IN DISCUSSION WITH MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNMENT OF SOUTH

VIETNAM TO EXPLAIN THE GOVERNMENT'S POSITION".

THE PRIME MINISTER'S APOLOGISTS HAVE TRIED TO INTERPRET .

THIS AS IMPLYING THAT THE PRIME MINISTER WAS TAKING A

STRONGER LINE WITH THE NORTH THAN WITH THE SOUTH.

WHAT A FARCICAL EXCUSE I THE PRIME MINISTER WANTED IMMEDIATE

REPRESENTATIONS MADE TO NORTH VIETNAM BECAUSE HE WANTED

THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT'S SYMPATHY TO BE MADE FULLY

EVIDENT IN HANOI AT THE EARLIEST POSSIBLE MOMENT.

THE SAIGON CABLE

LET ME NOW COME TO THE CABLE TO THE SOUTH AND SEE WHAT

OUR EVEN-HANDED PRIME MINISTER SAID. THAT CABLE WAS

CURT AND ABRUPT. "ALL PARTIES IN VIETNAM WILL RESUME .

WORKING TOGETHER." "A PRIME REQUIREMENT IS FOR THE SOUTH

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VIETNAMESE TO CARRY OUT IN GOOD FAITH THE PROVISIONS OF

CHAPTER 4 OF THE PARIS AGREEMENTS ESPECIALLY ARTICLE 12 .

ON THE NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR RECONCILIATION AND CONCORD . ·

AND CHAPTER 5 ON THE REUNIFICATION."

IT WAS NORTH VIETNAM AND THE PRG WHO WERE IN BREACH OF

THESE TWO POINTS.

THE PRIME MINISTER HAD BECOME A MASTER AT DOUBLE DEALING

AND BLAMING THE WRONG PARTY.

THE PRIME MINISTER ALSO SAID THAT OUR AMBASSADOR IN SOUTH.

VIETNAM SHOULD TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE THE AUSTRALIAN .

POSITION KNOWN TO SOUTH VIETNAMESE NOT MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNMENT,

NOT SUPPORTERS OF THE GOVERNMENT. IN OTHER WORDS, HE WAS

ATTEMPTING TO FOSTER CIRCUMSTANCES IN SOUTH VIETNAM IN

WHICH THERE WOULD BE AN UNDERMINING OF THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE

GOVERNMENT.

IF THE PRIME MINISTER HAD COME INTO THE OPEN AND EXPRESSED

THESE ATTITUDES OPENLY, MAKING PUBLIC HIS SUPPORT FOR NORTH ..

VIETNAM, THE WHOLE MATTER COULD HAVE BEEN DEBATED ON ITS MERIT.

BUT THE PRIME MINISTER CHOSE NOT TO DO IT THAT WAY. .

HE KNOWS FULL WELL, OF COURSE, THAT AUSTRALIANS WOULD NOT

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

GOVERNMENT THAT PUBLICLY TOOK THAT PRO-COMMUNIST, DOUBLE-DEALING

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STANCE SUBTERFUGE

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. SO HE SOUGHT TO DO IT BY DECEIT, BY

HE SAID ON APRIL 9TH IN ANSWER TO A QUESTION THAT THE

COMMUNICATIONS WERE SUBSTANTIALLY THE SAME - KNOWING THEY

WERE:SUBSTANTIALLY DIFFERENT.

SOME OF HIS APOLOGISTS - ONE CAN ONLY ASSUME IN PANIC -

HAVE ARGUED THAT BY COMMUNICATIONS HE MEANT ALL THE

COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN HANOI, SAIGON AND AUSTRALIA.

IT WAS PERFECTLY PLAIN IN THE CONTEXT OF THE CHARGES MADE

BY THE SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS THAT THE QUESTION:.

REFERRED TO THE CABLES AND THE CABLES ALONE. IT WAS PLAIN

IN THE CONTEXT OF THE DEBATES THAT THE CABLES WERE AT

ISSUE.

THE PRIME MINISTER KNEW THIS FULL WELL. EVEN HE CANNOT

AVOID THAT. .

LET ME REFER TO THE QUESTION I ASKED HIM ON APRIL 9TH.

I SAID THAT I HAD INVITED HIM TO TABLE HIS CABLES SENT TO

SAIGON AND HANOI IN ORDER TO CLEAR UP SUGGESTIONS THAT AUSTRALIA

HAD ADOPTED DOUBLE STANDARDS TO AVOID OFFENDING COMMUNIST

NORTH VIETNAM. I SAID THAT IF THE PRIME MINISTER WAS NOT

PREPARED TO TABLE THE EXCHANGES, WOULD HE CONSIDER MY OFFER

TO STUDY THEM PRIVATELY SO THAT WE COULD CLEAR UP THIS MATTER.

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I GUARANTEED THAT I WOULD PRESERVE THE CONFIDENTIALITY OF THE

EXCHANGES IF THEY WERE MADE AVAILABLE TO ME, AND THAT THE

ONLY COMMENT I WOULD MAKE WOULD BE TO SAY THAT THEY WERE

THE SAME IN QUALITY OR THAT THEY DIFFERED IN QUALITY.

I WAS ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CABLES. '

THE PRIME MINISTER PROTESTED THAT IT WAS IN BREACH OF HIGH

INTERNATIONAL PRINCIPLES TO RELEASE COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN

GOVERNMENTS. HE WENT ON TO SAY "THERE IS NO TRUTH WHATSOEVER

IN THE ALLEGATIONS THAT THE HONOURABLE MEMBER FOR KOOYONG

HAS MADE. HE HAS EVEN PURPORTED TO QUOTE FROM THE CABLE.

THE QUOTATION WHICH HE PURPORTS TO MAKE IS INACCURATE".

THE PRIME MINISTER CONTINUED, "THE COMMUNICATIONS I SENT TO

HANOI AND SAIGON WERE SUBSTANTIALLY THE SAME".

ONE COULD BE PEDANTIC AND SAY THAT THE HANOI CABLE WAS 460

WORDS IN LENGTH AND THE SAIGON CABLE ONLY 100 WORDS LONG,

BUT THE LENGTH OF THE CABLES IS NOT THE RELEVANT POINT.

IT IS IN THEIR CONTENT, AS I HAVE DEMONSTRATED, THAT THEY

ARE SUBSTANTIALLY DIFFERENT.

THE PRIME MINISTER, WHO PRESUMABLY SAW THEM AS ACTING

FOREIGN MINISTER BEFORE THEY WERE DESPATCHED, KNEW THEY

WERE SUBSTANTIALLY DIFFERENT.

. · ·/13

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WITH THAT FULL KNOWLEDGE, HE DECEIVED THE PARLIAMENT.

RECOGNISING THE PRIME MINISTER'S WEAK AND.INVIDIOUS POSITION

DURING HIS ABSENCE OVERSEAS, OFFICIALS OF HIS DEPARTMENT .

OR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS BREACHED THE

PRIME MINISTER'S PROCLAIMED HIGH PRINCIPLES AND RELEASED

THE DIPLOMATIC LETTERS OF THE 13TH OF MARCH.

THE LETTERS

FAR FROM EXONERATING THE PRIME MINISTER, FAR FROM PROVIDING

A BALANCE TO THE BIAS SO PLAINLY EVIDENT IN THE CABLES.,

A PROPER ANALYSIS OF THOSE LETTERS REINFORCES THE BIAS, ,

REINFORCES THE HIDDEN SUPPORT THAT THE PRIME MINISTER WAS

GIVING TO THE NORTH.

THIS ASPECT IS ALL THE MORE SERIOUS BECAUSE ON 13TH MARCH

THE ORDER FOR WITHDRAWAL OF NORTHERN FORCES HAD NOT YET

BEEN GIVEN BY PRESIDENT THIEU. THERE WERE MANY PEOPLE

STILL HOPING THAT SOUTH VIETNAM COULD MAINTAIN ITS INDEPENDENCE

AND ITS VIABILITY.

THE LETTER TO SOUTH VIETNAM HAS A KEY ADDITIONAL PARAGRAPH

WHICH ALTERS THE WHOLE TONE OF THAT LETTER.

. ./ΛΗ

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THE LETTER TO PRESIDENT THIEU SAYS: "I TRUST YOUR GOVERNMENT.

WILL TAKE EARLY AND POSITIVE STEPS TOWARDS THE ESTABLISHMENT

OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF RECONCILIATION AND CONCORD AS

SPECIFIED IN ARTICLE 12 OF THE PARIS AGREEMENTS. I ALSO

TRUST YOUR GOVERNMENT WILL OBSERVE ARTICLE 7 OF THE AGREEMENT

CONCERNING THE PIECE FOR PIECE REPLACEMENT OF ARMAMENTS,

MUNITIONS AND WAR MATERIALS".

IT WAS NORTH VIETNAM AND THE PRG WHICH WERE PRINCIPALLY RESPONSIBLE

FOR THE CESSATION OF DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING THE ESTABLISHMENT .

OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF RECONCILIATION AND CONCORD.

ARTICLE 7 OF THE AGREEMENT CONCERNS THE PIECE FOR PIECE

REPLACEMENT OF WORN OUT OR DAMAGED MILITARY EQUIPMENT. THE

PRIME MINISTER WOULD HAVE KNOWN - IF HE HAD READ THE FOREIGN

AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT BRIEFING - THAT BECAUSE OF CONGRESSIONAL ' ·

CUTS IN UNITED STATES AID, SOUTH VIETNAM WAS PROVIDED WITH

MUCH LESS THAN PIECE FOR PIECE REPLACEMENT. .

LET ME EMPHASISE THAT IT WAS THE PRG THAT HAD BROKEN OFF

TALKS OVER THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL.

FURTHER, THE NORTHERN ARMIES, THE PRG ARMIES, HAD EXPANDED

GREATLY IN SIZE. THEY HAD BEEN REARMED WITH MODERN AND

EFFECTIVE RUSSIAN WEAPONS ON A MUCH GREATER THAN ONE FOR ONE ,

BASIS. AUSTRALIA WAS WELL AWARE OF THE HUGE BUILD-UP IN

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COMMUNIST FORCES.

IF THE PRIME MINISTER WERE EVEN-HANDED, THESE POINTS WOULD

HAVE BEEN COVERED IN THE LETTER TO NORTH VIETNAM.

WHY WERE THEY EXCLUDED? IT WAS NOT CLEAR ON THE 13TH

OF MARCH THAT THE NORTH WAS GOING TO WIN. THERE WAS FIERCE

FIGHTING BUT NO ROUT OF SOUTHERN FORCES. WHY WAS

THE PRIME MINISTER AT THAT STAGE SEEKING TO PUT ADDITIONAL

PRESSURE ON THE THIEU GOVERNMENT?

I SUGGEST THAT IT WAS BECAUSE MUCH EARLIER THAN THIS THE

PRIME MINISTER HAD MADE UP HIS MIND THAT HE WANTED NORTH

VIETNAM TO WIN AND HE WISHED TO OFFER WHAT MORAL SUPPORT

HE COULD. ,

AIDE MEMOIRE

ONE IRONIC ASPECT OF THE AFFAIR IS THAT ALTHOUGH THE PRIME

MINISTER FAWNED ON NORTH VIETNAM, HE APPEARS TO HAVE WON

FEW MARKS FROM THOSE HE SOUGHT TO CULTIVATE.

ON APRIL 6TH, OUR AMBASSADOR IN HANOI HAD A MEETING WITH

NORTH VIETNAMESE' FOREIGN AFFAIRS OFFICERS TO DISCUSS

SPECIFICALLY AUSTRALIA'S LETTER OF 13TH MARCH. AT THE

END OF THE INTERVIEW, THE NORTH VIETNAMESE HANDED OVER

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AN AIDE MEMOIRE, SELECTED PARTS OF WHICH WERE SUBSEQUENTLY

"LEAKED" IN THE CANBERRA PRESS GALLERY AS PART OF A DESPERATE

AND BELATED SMOKESCREEN.

TRUE TO FORM, THE COMMUNISTS WERE NOT CONTENT WITH THE SUPPORT

THEY WERE GETTING - THEY WANTED STILL MORE.

NO DOUBT GOVERNMENT SPEAKERS WILL TRY TO FIND SOME SAVING

GRACE IN THAT AIDE MEMOIRE TODAY. THE PRIME MINISTER HAS

NOT YET HAD THE COURTESY TO MAKE THE AIDE MEMOIRE AVAILABLE

TO ME, NOT EVEN THOSE CAREFULLY CULLED EXTRACTS PEDDLED

AROUND THE PRESS GALLERY.

THE CAIRNS LETTER

WE COME NOW TO THE NEXT INTERESTING DOCUMENT. A LETTER FROM

THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, DATED 13TH OF FEBRUARY, TO

MR. NIEN, CHARGE D'AFFAIRES OF THE EMBASSY OF THE DEMOCRATIC

REPLUBLIC OF VIETNAM. OUR DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AT LEAST

IS AN HONEST MAN - HE IS AN AVOWED AND UNASHAMED SUPPORTER

OF THE NORTH VIETNAMESE AND PRG. .

HE WRITES THAT HE HAS RECEIVED A LETTER OF THE 10TH JANUARY, 1975,

FROM MR. NIEN, SETTING OUT THE TWO POINT PROPOSAL OF THE

PROVISIONAL REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT. HE SAID HE HAD PASSED . .

IT ON TO THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, SENATOR WILLESEE, ; .

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AND ASKED HIM TO GIVE IT A "SYMPATHETIC EYE AND EAR".

WHAT DOES A SYMPATHETIC EYE AND EAR MEAN IN THE WORDS

OF THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER? .

ON ANY NORMAL DIPLOMATIC READING, THE NORTH VIETNAMESE CHARGE

WOULD BE ENTITLED TO BELIEVE THAT THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT

WOULD ACT UPON THAT REQUEST. THAT IS BASICALLY WHAT

CIRCUMSTANCES PROVED TO BE THE CASE.

HONOURABLE MEMBERS MIGHT WONDER WHAT THE TWO POINTS OF

THE PRG PROGRAMME WERE. THOSE TWO POINTS INVOLVED THE

RESIGNATION OF PRESIDENT THIEU AND THE END OF ALL UNITED

STATES SUPPORT TO THE GOVERNMENT OF SOUTH VIETNAM.

DOES THE PRIME MINISTER DENY THAT? IS THE PRIME MINISTER

UNAWARE OF IT? IT APPEARS IN THE DOCUMENT FROM HIS OWN

FOREIGN AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT DATED JANUARY 30TH, 1975·

THESE TWO DEMANDS WERE BOTH CONTRARY TO THE PARIS AGREEMENTS.

THE PARIS AGREEMENTS SAID NOTHING ABOUT THE RESIGNATION

OF PRESIDENT THIEU AND HIS GOVERNMENT. THE PARIS AGREEMENTS

SPECIFICALLY ALLOWED FOR CONTINUED UNITED STATES SUPPORT

TO THE GOVERNMENT OF SOUTH VIETNAM. HERE WAS THE DEPUTY

PRIME MINISTER SUPPORTING A PROPOSAL WHICH WAS IN ITSELF

IN BREACH OF THE PARIS AGREEMENTS IN THE INTERESTS OF

NORTH VIETNAM AND THE PRG AND AGAINST THE INTERESTS OF

SOUTH VIETNAM.

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THERE HAS BEEN A CONSTANT THREAD LINKING THE PRIME MINISTER'S

CABLES AND LETTERS AND THE LETTER OF DR. CAIRNS'.

THE PARIS AGREEMENTS, IN THEIR STRICT TERMS, ARE PRESSED

STRONGLY ON SOUTH VIETNAM.

THE BREACHES OF THE PARIS AGREEMENTS BY NORTH VIETNAM AND

THE PRG ARE LARGELY IGNORED.

THE GOVERNMENT, THROUGH THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, HAS

PUT ITSELF IN A POSITION OF SUPPORTING BREACHES OF THE

PARIS AGREEMENTS QUITE SPECIFICALLY IN THE INTERESTS OF .

NORTH VIETNAM. DID THE PRIME MINISTER HAVE ALL THESE MATTERS

IN HIS OWN MIND WHEN HE DECEIVED THE PARLIAMENT ON APRIL 9TH

AND SAID THAT THE CABLES WERE SUBSTANTIALLY THE SAME?

THE MORE ONE EXAMINES THE EVIDENCE, THE MORE ONE FINDS THAT

THE GOVERNMENT IS CULPABLE AND STANDS CONDEMNED AND CONVICTED

BY ITS OWN DEMONSTRABLE DECEIT, PARTIALITY AND DOUBLE DEALING.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS DOCUMENT

NOW LET US CONSIDER THIS FOREIGN AFFAIRS DOCUMENT DATED 30th

JANUARY.

IT IS TITLED "INTERNATIONAL ISSUES - VIETNAM, TWO YEARS

UNDER THE PARIS AGREEMENTS". IT IS PREPARED BY THE AUSTRALIAN

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS. IT IS FOR SELECTIVE DISTRIBUTION

TO CERTAIN CHOSEN PEOPLE - I AM SURE THE PRIME MINISTER IS '

ON THE LISTI

k ' '

/19

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THE DOCUMENT POINTS OUT THAT AT THE TIME OF THE

PARIS AGREEMENTS, THERE WERE 145,000 NORTH VIETNAMESE

REGULARS IN SOUTH VIETNAM. SINCE THEN, AND IN

CONTRAVENTION OF THE AGREEMENTS, THE NORTH

VIETNAMESE HAD CONTINUED TO MOVE MATERIALS AND MEN

SOUTH IN NUMBERS FAR IN EXCESS OF THE AGREED ONE

FOR ONE REPLACEMENT LEVEL.

BY JANUARY THIS YEAR, THE NORTH VIETNAMESE AND PRG

FORCES WOULD HAVE TOTALLED 400,000.

FURTHER, THE DOCUMENT STATES, 70,000 NORTH VIETNAMESE

TROOPS REMAINED ACROSS THE BORDERS IN LAOS AND CAMBODIA

WITH ANOTHER SIX DIVISIONS IN RESERVE IN NORTH

VIETNAM. THOSE RESERVES, THOSE TROOPS ACROSS THE

BORDERS, WERE ALL THROWN INTO THE FINAL BATTLE

FOR SOUTH VIETNAM. . . .

THAT WOULD MEAN THAT IN THE CONCLUDING STAGES, .

NORTH VIETNAM HAD SOME 600,000 TROOPS AVAILABLE - A

NOT INSIGNIFICANT BUILD UP FROM THE 145,000 IN SOUTH

VIETNAM AT THE TIME OF THE PARIS AGREEMENTS.

.../20

20

ί ·

NOWHERE IN HIS REMARKS ON THESE MATTERS DID

THE PRIME MINISTER EVER REFER TO THIS MASSIVE

INCREASE IN MILITARY STRENGTH. WE KNOW HE

WAS FAR FROM IGNORANT OF THE FACTS.

THE DOCUMENT GOES ON TO SAY THAT THE COMMUNIST

FORCES WERE BELIEVED TO HAVE ENOUGH EQUIPMENT

IN SOUTH VIETNAM TO MAINTAIN AN ALL OUT

OFFENSIVE FOR A FULL YEAR.

THE DOCUMENT CONTINUES THAT ALTHOUGH THE SOUTH

VIETNAMESE FORCES WERE WELL EQUIPPED, THEY

WERE DEPENDENT FOR RESUPPLY ON A ONE FOR ONE

REPLACEMENT FROM THE UNITED STATES. COUPLED

WITH THE 30° / 0 CUT IN AMERICAN MILITARY AND

ECONOMIC AID, AND THE RESULTANT SHORTAGES IN FUEL

AND AMMUNITION, THEY HAD BEEN FORCED TO MAKE

ECONOMIES IN ARMY ACTIVITY AND IN AIR AND

ARTILLERY SUPPORT.

THE DOCUMENT SAYS THAT NEITHER SIDE HAD .

BEEN BLAMELESS IN VIOLATING THE PROVISION

OF THE AGREEMENTS BUT IN THE CEASEFIRE

.../ 2 1

2 1 -

ASPECT, THE HEAD OF THE CANADIAN CONTINGENT ON THE .

INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF CONTROL AND SUPERVISION

LAID ALMOST ALL THE BLAME FOR CEASEFIRE VIOLATIONS ON

THE NORTH VIETNAMESE AND PRG FORCES.

THE DOCUMENT SAYS THAT TALKS BETWEEN SOUTH VIETNAM AND

THE PRG AIMED AT ESTABLISHING THE NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR

RECONCILIATION AND CONCORD, WHOSE MAIN TASK WOULD HAVE BEEN

TO ORGANISE ELECTIONS IN SOUTH VIETNAM, HAD BROKEN DOWN.

IT POINTS OUT THAT IT WAS THE PRG SUPPORTED BY NORTH

VIETNAM WHICH HAD REFUSED TO RESUME THE PEACE TALKS

EITHER IN PARIS OR SAIGON UNTIL THIEU HAD BEEN REMOVED

AND AMERICAN AID WITHDRAWN.

THOSE ARE THE VERY POINTS THAT THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER

SUPPORTED I

THE GOVERNMENT WAS PREPARED TO CONDONE BREACHES OF THE

PARIS AGREEMENTS IF THIS SUPPORTED THE CAUSE OF THE PRG

AND NORTH VIETNAM.

THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS DOCUMENT GOES ON TO POINT OUT THAT .

THE PRG, WHICH REALISED THAT IN ITS PRESENT POSITION IT

WOULD ALMOST CERTAINLY BE DECISIVELY DEFEATED IN ANY

ELECTIONS, REJECTED SOUTH VIETNAM'S TIMETABLE FOR ELECTIONS.

. . ./22

i

22

PLAINLY THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS BELIEVED* THAT

IT WAS NORTH VIETNAM AND THE PRG THAT.WAS SABOTAGING THE

AGREEMENTS. . . ‘

THE PRIME MINISTER DECEIVED THE AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENT '

AND PEOPLE IN CONCEALING THESE FACTS.

HE DID WORSE THAN THAT. IN THE PARLIAMENT HE PUT THE Γ

PRINCIPAL BLAME FOR BREACH OF THE PARIS AGREEMENTS' ON .

SOUTH VIETNAM AND THE UNITED STATES. WHY DID HE IGNORE .

THE FACTS AS PROVIDED BY HIS OWN DEPARTMENT? ;

THE PRIME MINISTER HAS WORN TWO FACES. HE MISLED THE

PARLIAMENT. HE HAS FAVOURED A COMMUNIST CAUSE, AND HAS

SACRIFICED MANY HUNDREDS- OF REFUGEES IN THE PROCESS.

THE PRIME MINISTER DID HAVE A PROPER COURSE OPEN TO HIM.

HE COULD HAVE ARGUED OPENLY THAT THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS DOCUMENT

OF JANUARY 30TH, 1975, WAS FALSELY BASED. HE COULD HAVE

ARGUED OPENLY THAT IT WAS SOUTH VIETNAM WHICH WAS PRINCIPALLY

TO BLAME AND THAT NORTH VIETNAM WAS INNOCENT. HE '

COULD HAVE MADE THE SUBSTANCE OF HIS CABLES PLAIN AND SAID

THAT HE BELIEVED THAT NORTH VIETNAM OUGHT TO WIN, THAT THE

PRG OUGHT TO WIN, THAT THEY BOTH OUGHT TO BE GIVEN MORAL

SUPPORT FROM THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT. .

. . , /23

23

IF HE HAD DONE THIS, HE COULD AT LEAST HAVE BEEN

PRAISED FOR SOME PLAIN SPEAKING AND HONESTY IN

REVEALING A RADICAL CHANGE OF POLICY TO THE AUSTRALIAN

PEOPLE. HE CHOSE NOT TO DO SO. HE CHOSE BY SECRET,

DECEITFUL AND SURREPTITIOUS MEANS TO HIDE THE REAL

INTENTIONS OF HIS GOVERNMENT. IN THE PROCESS, HE

DECEIVED THE PARLIAMENT.

MEMBERS OF BOTH SIDES OF THE HOUSE KNOW FROM REGULAR

EXPERIENCE THAT OUR PRIME MINISTER HAS LITTLE RESPECT

FOR THE INSTITUTION OF PARLIAMENT. WHEN IS HE GOING

TO REPORT TO THE PARLIAMENT ON HIS MOST RECENT

OVERSEAS TRIP, INCLUDING THE COMMONWEALTH HEADS OF

GOVERNMENT MEETING AND HIS MEETING WITH THE PRESIDENT

OF THE UNITED STATES? I UNDERSTAND HE IS GOING ON

NATIONAL RADIO AND TELEVISION TONIGHT - IS HE GOING

TO TOTALLY DISREGARD THE PARLIAMENT?

A PRIME MINISTER MUST SET AN EXAMPLE. AND HE, ABOVE

ALL, SHOULD OBSERVE THE TRUTH WITH ABSOLUTE SCRUPULOUSNESS

24

PUBLIC REACTION

WHAT ABOUT PUBLIC REACTION? LET ME JUST TAKE A

SAMPLE OF THE COMMENTARIES FROM AROUND AUSTRALIA.

CREIGHTON BURNS, IN THE MELBOURNE AGE, SAID ON

30TH APRIL; "IT IS TIME THE PRIME MINISTER piD

SOME STRAIGHT TALKING ON VIETNAM AND FOR THE SAKE

OF HIS GOVERNMENT AS WELL AS HIS OWN REPUTATION,

HE'D BETTER HAVE SOME GOOD ANSWERS".

IN ITS EDITORIAL ON APRIL 29TH, THE MELBOURNE AGE

SAID; "THESE CABLES WHICH THE GOVERNMENT ADAMANTLY

REFUSED TO TABLE OR EVEN TO SHOW PRIVATELY TO THE

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION SEEM TO CONFIRM THE

OPPOSITION'S ACCUSATIONS OF DUPLICITY AND HYPOCRISY

IN THE GOVERNMENT'S ATTITUDE TO THE TWO VIETNAMS.

MORE THAN THAT, THEY PROVIDE STRIKING EVIDENCE THAT

THE PRIME MINISTER DECEIVED, AND WE WOULD PUT IT NO

HIGHER THAN THAT AT THIS STAGE, PARLIAMENT AND THE

PUBLIC IN DECLARING THAT THERE WAS NO TRUTH WHATEVER

IN THE ALLEGATIONS FIRST MADE BY THE OPPOSITION .

SPOKESMAN ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS, MR, PEACOCK.".

.../25

3

25

THE EDITORIAL CONTINUES: THE MISERABLE EVIDENCE

SUGGESTS THAT OUR GOVERNMENT HAS BETRAYED REFUGEES

AND DEALT IN A TWO-FACED WAY WITH FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS

AND WITH THE PARLIAMENT AND THE.PEOPLE OF AUSTRALIA".

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, UNDER THE HEADING

"A GOVERNMENT WE CANNOT TRUST", SAID IN PLAIN

LANGUAGE THAT THE PRIME MINISTER HAD LIED TO THE

PARLIAMENT AND DECEIVED THE AUSTRALIAN PEOPLE.

t

26

IMPLICATIONS

WE NEED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE PRIME

MINISTER'S DUPLICITY AND DECEIT.

WE KNOW WHAT IT HAS DONE TO THE REPUTATION OF THE PRIME

MINISTER AT HOME.

AT A TIME OF GREAT DOMESTIC STRESS, WITH LOSS OF NATIONAL

CONFIDENCE, CONTINUING HIGH AND TRAGIC UNEMPLOYMENT,

AND RAMPANT INFLATION, THE PRIME MINISTER HAS DESTROYED

HIS CREDIBILITY. THIS HAS OCCURRED WHEN AUSTRALIA

NEEDS FORTHRIGHT, COURAGEOUS AND RESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP -

ELEMENTS ALL SO SADLY LACKING FROM THE GOVERNMENT TODAY.

?

WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES FURTHER AFIELD? THEY NOT ONLY

INVOLVE HANOI, SAIGON AND AUSTRALIA; THEY INVOLVE

EVERY OTHER COUNTRY WITH WHOM WE HAVE INTERNATIONAL

RELATIONS. - .

THE WHITLAM GOVERNMENT WILL NOT AGAIN ENJOY FULL TRUST ON

THE INTERNATIONAL SCENE. OTHER GOVERNMENTS WILL NEVER BE

CERTAIN WHETHER OR NOT AUSTRALIA IS ENGAGED IN DOUBLE-DEALING.

THE CHAMPION OF THE COMMUNIST CAUSE IN NORTH VIETNAM IS

THE SAME MAN WHO IN WASHINGTON LAST FRIDAY DESCRIBED AMERICA

/27

27

AS "THE WORLD'S LAST AND BEST HOPE". WHAT HYPICRISY

FROM A MAN WHOSE GOVERNMENT'S ACTIONS AND POLICIES HAVE

HELPED PUSH THE UNITED STATES ALONG THE ROAD TO ISOLATIONISM

THE PRIME MINISTER HAS IMPUGNED THE REPUTATION OF AUSTRALIA.

THIS CANNOT BE REPAIRED WHILE HE REMAINS IN OFFICE.

PRIME MINISTER CONDEMNED

THE PRIME MINISTER HAS BEEN EXPOSED AS A MAN LACKING

IN COMPASSION, LACKING IN CONCERN FOR PEOPLE WHOSE

LIVES ARE IN JEOPARDY, LACKING IN PRINCIPLE, AND FULLY

PREPARED TO MISLEAD THE PARLIAMENT.

THE GOVERNMENT'S NUMBERS PRESUMABLY WILL LEAD TO AN

INEVITABLE CONCLUSION OF THIS DEBATE, UNLESS SOME

MEMBERS OF THE LABOR PARTY FIND THE COURAGE OF EARLIER

DAYS.

BUT WHATEVER THE TALLY OF THE VOTES, THE RECORD CANNOT

BE EXPUNGED. THE WORDS OF THIS DEBATE WILL LEAVE THE

PRIME MINISTER CONDEMNED.

WE CAN EXPECT MUCH SUBTERFUGE AND SELF-JUSTIFICATION.

THAT WILL NOT ALTER THE FACTS.

/ 28

28

THE PRIME MINISTER HAS BEEN DEVIOUS. HE HAS BEEN

MENDACIOUS. HE HAS DESTROYED HIS OWN REPUTATION.

THE PARLIAMENT WILL NOT LOSE SIGHT OF THE DUPLICITY

OF THIS PRIME MINISTER.