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Australia and United States military co-operation



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D E P A R T M E N T O F F O R E I G N A F F A I R S

C A N B E R R A . A.C.T. 2 6 0 0

M40 2 March 1980

AUSTRALIA AND UNITED STATES MILITARY CO-OPERATION

The A cting M in is te r f o r F o re ig n A f f a i r s , Mr M ichael M acK ellar spoke today of th e em otional and m isle a d in g sta te m e n t t h a t Mr Bowenf Deputy L eader of th e O p p o sitio n had made about m il ita r y c o -o p e ra tio n between A u s tr a lia and th e U nited S ta te s .

As background Mr M acK ellar p o in te d to th e Prime M in i s te r ’s S tatem ent on 19 F ebruary in which he announced in c re a s e d A u s tr a lia n m il ita r y o p e ra tio n s in the. In d ia n Ocean* in c lu d in g

e x tr a su rv eillan ce f l i g h t s , n a v a l p a t r o l l i n g and o th e r m easures.

The Prime M in is te r had made c l e a r th a t th e s e In d ia n Ocean

o p e ra tio n s would be e s s e n t i a l l y an in d e p e n d e n t, n a tio n a l e f f o r t .

T his was p e r f e c t ly c o n s is te n t w ith o th e r commitments we had made to su p p o rt th e e f f o r t s of our U n ited S ta te s a l l i e s by c o - o r d in a tin g

our o p e ra tio n s w ith t h e i r s . We had a ls o o ffe re d th e U nited S ta te s

th e u se of f a c i l i t i e s in A u s tr a lia in su p p o rt of t h e i r In d ia n

Ocean o p e r a tio n s .

There was no s u g g e s tio n a t th a t tim e of com m itting

A u s tr a lia n tro o p s - or any o th e r u n i t s - to th e US r a p id

deployment f o r c e . Nor i s th a t th e Governments in te n tio n now.

Mr M acK ellar s a id t h a t more r e c e n tly in th e co u rse of

d e t a il e d d is c u s s io n s w ith th e U n ited S ta te s about c o -o rd in a tin g

our e f f o r t s th e r e had been a re q u e s t f o r A u stra lia , to look a t th e

p o s s i b i l i t y of com m itting tro o p s to th e U nited S ta te s r a p id

deployment f o r c e . The Government had examined the· q u e s tio n and d ecid ed n o t to accede to th e r e q u e s t. I t had done so c o n fid e n t

in th e knowledge t h a t th e s i g n i f i c a n t expansion which was a lre a d y

u n d er way in i t s defence e f f o r t would be th e most e f f e c t iv e way

A u s tr a lia could c o n trib u te to our common e f f o r t to promote peace

and s t a b i l i t y in th e re g io n .

In p u rsu in g such p o l i c i e s , and p a r t i c u l a r l y in response

to some i l l - j u d g e d c r iti c is m s from Mr. Bowen, th e M in is te r s a id

he would l i k e to r e - i t e r a t e t h a t A u s tr a lia was a c tin g on i t s own

b e h a lf and in i t s own n a tio n a l in te re s t» . I t was r id ic u lo u s to

th in k otherw ise» There co u ld never be any q u e s tio n of compromising our independence of d e c is io n or a c tio n » Mr Bowen’s suggestion- th a t A u s tr a lia could be in v o lv e d in combat w ith o u t c o n s u lta tio n and

w ith o u t th e power of independent d e c is io n was com pletely b a s e le s s .

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