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Government inaction on Vietnam attacked



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MENS RELEASE CANBERRA 21st April, 1975

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(File 189/75)

The Australian Governments failure to take action which would lead to a ceasefire in South Vietnam was strongly criticised today.

The criticism was made by three Opposition members of Parliament who earlier this month, visited Cambodia and South Vietnam.

The three Members of Parliament, Mr. A.S. Peacock, Mr, I Sineladr and Mr. J. Sullivan, said the Australian Government inaction · on seeking a. peace was unforgiveable.

"The majority of Australians sincerely hope for peace in South Vietnam. We believe that these hopes can only be achieved by ' Australia with other nations calling for an immediate ceasefire in South Vietnam." .

"Australia is'in an excellent position to take the lead in such a call because we have diplomatic relations with both, combatant countries," ■ - ■ .

"At the same time we believe Australia should call for compliance of the Paris Peace Accords by both North and South. Vietnam, " particularly North Vietnam which has treated the -Accords as a eworthless piece of paper* to paraphrase a former dictator, Australians opposed. '

"As well, Australia should insist that the people of South Vietnam have the right to political self determination under a United Nations controlled and.- supervised plebiscite if necessary."

Last week, the Opposition delegation issued a 12 point plan regarding South Vietnam . ' ·

The 12 points were:-

1.. Call for an immediate ceasefire in South Vietnam

2. Re-affirm the right to policiticai self-determination by South Vietnam (As also reiterated by Mr. Whitlam in January . 1973)

3. Insist on compliance with the Paris Accords by the North Vietnamese, · · ' '

4. Following a cease fire, call on -the International Committee for control and supervision to ensure that the Paris Accords are imp]imented. . · .

2.

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5. Use Australia’s prestige and influence among the major nations of the world to bring pressure to bear on the North Vietnamese' to honor the Paris Accords.

6. Request both the USSR and the People’s Republic of China to restrict the supply of arms to, at most, that allowed by the accords.

7. Seek, through member countries, a meeting of the Security Counci of the United Nations and rally support for the International Commission for Control and Supervision providing inspection tearr on the ground in South Vietnam. These.inspection teams are urgently requred to observe the actions of the invading North

Vietnamese forces and to protect the rights of the South Vietnamese in captured territory.

8. Begin a programme of refugee evacuation in consultation with the Saigon Government. Both children and adult South Vietnamese to be included in this evacuation to Australia. If requested by Saigon, make Australia available as a staging base as well as a

final destination for refugees. Many other countries should als be called on to assist in this evacuation. It is obviously a problem too vast for Australia alone, .

9. Begin a major programme of aid to people in both South Vietnam and North- Vietnam through both private and government assistance agencies. Those items which are urgently requred include Food, Medicines, Vaccines, Clothing Material, Clothes and Paramedical needs, A detailed list of needs was obtained

in Saigon. - .

10. Increase the Australian Government grant to the Australian Disasters and Emergencies Committee appeal from the present ’ sum of $50,000 to $500,000 and the target from $5 million to $20^ million, .

11. Provide facilities for volunteers from Australia such as medical paramedical and other personnel to go to South Vietnam and help in reconstruction following a ceasefire. These facilities to include Australian armed service personnel such as Army engineei if necessary. ' '

12. Insist that steps be taken to guarantee South Vietnam’s right to self-determination, free from armed aggression ’

Referring to the question of Vietnamese entering Australia, the 3 man Opposition delegation said they favoured the entry of Vietnamese sponsored by relatives in Australia, orphans particularly^mixed blood.children and Vietnamese whose lives would be at risk in the '

light of North Vietnamese success. .

"We believe Australia should encourage other nations to follow such a step,. _;

"As matters stand at present some Vietnamese born residents in

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Australia have been told their close relatives would be eligible to come to Australia.

"However, it appears that this information on approval for entry has not always reached the Australian Embassy in Saigon. Consequently Vietnamese born residents who have been told here in Australia that their families would be acceptable for entry have now received,

in some specific cases, information back from their families in South Vietnam who have contacted Australian Embassy Officials that they have no approval from Canberra for their entry, into Australia.

"That approval is necessary for Vietnamese citizens to obtain a Vietnamese passport and exit visa..

"Because of the understanable delay in issuing passports in.Saigon■ we believe Australia should contact the South Vietnamese Government saying that Australia is prepared to allow South Vietnamese to enter Australia if necessary following the issuance of an Australian note of approval to enter after the production of;a citizen's ■

identification card.

"Such a step would relieve anxiety in South Vietnam and here in Australia and approxi-.•mately follow the precept established in Australia at the end of the Second World War, when displaced persons were admitted to Australia on Red Cross issued identification papers.

"Besides this immediate step, we urge the Federal Government to grant immediate aid to assist voluntary aid organisations which are buying food and medical supplies for the refugees of South Vietnam in getting those supplies to South Vietnam.

"Shipping schedules to South Vietnam from Australia, are at present unsatisfactory and too long,bearing in mind, the immediate needs of the refugees.

"We believe the Australian Government should immediately set aside RAAF aircraft to fly these vital supplies to South Vietnam and elsewhere there are refugees, ' and, if necessary, charter cotnmercial aircraft and meet the costs of air transportation.

"These aircraft could backload with Vietnamese approved for entry to Australia.

"Aright gesture in this direction would for the Prime Minister to fly commercially to the Bahamas and allowing the Qantas aircraft he has chartered to participate in the needed mercy flights."