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Prime Minister's speech - The Hague

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D9 17 January 1975


4 JANUARY, 1975

The following is the text of a speech by the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. E. G. Whitlam, Q.C., M.P., at a dinner given by the I Prime Minister of the Netherlands, The Hague, on Saturday, 4" January 1975.

"I have had frequent occasion on my visit to Europe to stress the traditional friendship that Australia enjoys with the countries of Europe. In few countries are such sentiments more appropriate or more soundly based than here in The Netherlands. I greet you, Prime Minister, not only as a fellow Head of Government and as the head of

a fraternal party, but as the leader of a nation with an exemplary record of generosity and goodwill in her dealings with the world. In few countries is there a keener and more practical conception of the responsibilities of a small or medium power towards the maintenance of a stable world order.

"The Netherlands has made a contribution to the less·fortunate peoples of the world and to the welfare and progress of the international community out of all proportion to her size. An Australian Prime Minister comes to your country, seeking not merely a reaffirmation of our bonds

of friendship, but a good example - indeed a measure of inspiration - to guide us in our own search for a wise and constructive role' as an inde- φ pendent nation in an increasingly troubled world. ■ ’

"In the history and traditions, and in the contempdrary circum­ stances of our countries, there is much to provide a basis for greater co-operation and understanding. Dutch navigators discovered the Australian continent in the early 17th century - more than a: century

before the British. True it was they found little to interest, them in those days. It was another 300 years before the Dutch came; to Australia in significant numbers. Since World War II - a conflict in which Dutch and Australian soldiers fought side by side - more than 160,000 Dutch migrants have settled in my country. Their contribution to the development

and enrichment of Australian society has been immense and irreplaceable. No migrants are more valued or respected by the Australian people. '

Today, the populations of our two countries and our national incomes abe almost identical. We are both great trading nations. With our common western traditions of law, social justice and Parliamentary democracy, we share similar ethical and cultural values. Each of us


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aspires to a robust national independence, to a distinctive voice in world affairs, yet each of us acknowledges an important role, and important responsibilities, in international and regional communities.

"I mention these things, not just to illustrate the strength of our own relationship, which is long-standing and secure, but to show how two nations, geographically remote and with widely different regional interests, can demonstrate the growing interdependence of all nations * i believe this interdependence to be the cardinal reality of modern international relations,' Only by recognising their interdependence will nations overcome the complex and daunting problems confronting us all.

Interdependence implies much more than co-existence, more even than co-operation : it requires us to acknowledge that no nation can live to itself, that the world's problems are global in their nature and origin, and' that solutions will never be found - they will indeed be made much more difficult - if nations pursue narrow, inward-looking policies, whether

in trade or in economic matters in military or defensive postures or in their attitudes to the developing nations. There h a s .never been a greater taeed for international discuasion·, for the exchange of views, for the strengthening and enlargement of the world's agencies for co-operation

and consultation. The survival of the western world - with its free institutions and its manifold material blessings - may well depend on the ability of nations to talk and work together.

"I believe this spirit of co-operation must be sought through a new respect for international law. It is appropriate that I mention these thoughts in The Hague, for it is here in your city that one of the paramount instruments for world order and international law is based. Australia has given her warm support to the principles and objectives

of the International Court" of Justree. We believe we must continue to promote the development of international law. We must promote its ' acceptance, not merely as a means of ending disputes, but as a standard for international conduct", as a positive embodiment ofthe principles of international justice and human brotherhood. The re-ordering of political and economic relations which is occurring throughout the world will

inevitably give rise to strains between states.: The challenge facing .us at present is to rise above self-interest and accept with generosity, with grace and with responsibility the need to resolve our-differences by peaceful means. It is for these reasons that I 'spoke last year in the

United Nations General Assembly of the need to give greater attention to the role of the International Court. I urged that the Court's jurisdiction should be widened and that jurisdiction should become compulsory and universal. In helping the Court to enhance its role, our countries

share much common ground. Our delegations at the United Nations have worked closely together to this end.

"in international affairs, there have been many other areas of fruitful co-operation between Australia and the. Netherlands. We both give high priority to the United Nations. We have effectively co-operated in the General Assembly on such questions as non-proliferation and nuclear

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disarmament : Korea and South-East Asia : the strengthening of the International Atomic Energy Agency : the Law of the Sea and the Environment. We have rejected apartheid and worked for the elimination of racism and colonialism, of anarchy and terrorism. We share a similar outlook on

the problems of the underdeveloped world. . We are dedicated to :the independence and development of those countries which history once made our colonies.

"Australia's new emphasis in her foreign policy on a more outward­ looking and independent role, our greater involvement in Asia and our region, in no way represents any break with our history or with our trad­ itional friends and allies in· the Commonwealth, in western Europe or the United States. Nor has our vital interest in their well-being diminished.

Western Europe, for example, is more important-than ever in our vision of the world. The nations of the European economic community now const­ itute Australia’s single most important trading partner. We believe a united Europe will strengthen the democratic forces in the world, and

that Europe's continuing prosperity is essential to the vie If are and p r o g r e s s of all nations.

"The Netherlands, as one of the founding states of the European community, has an essential and'continuing role'· i n ' the new Europe and in Australia's relations with Europe.. Your great ports are the essential gateways for our trade with the whole of this continent. Your businessmen

and investors are deeply involved in Australia's economic development. Dutch people have risen to -the highest positions of eminence in Australian commerce, industry and public life. I think of G.D. Delprat, a former manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, Australia's

largest corporation, a man who established our;first steel works in Newcastle. I think of G. J. Dusseldorp, founder of the Lend Lease Corporation, one of the greatest development companies in Australia. In this context I mention a recent initiative to establish an Australian- Netherlands Association in 'Australia which' will complement the"successful Netherlands' Australia Institute already established in this country.

I pay tribute to- "the effort’ s to establish the new association and offer my full support. It will symbolise: and strengthen the long-standing ^.n d cordial friendship between our two countries:. That - friendship, W l r Prime Minister, has been deepened and enriched by my visit to your

historic capital and by our talks together. Australians attach the highest importance to our good r e l a t i o n s a n d honour your nation and its people for their contribution to a saner, more civilized, more just.and peaceful world."