Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Prime Minister's press conference, Colombo

Download PDFDownload PDF

©Î’ΡΑΚΙΓΟΏΒΜΊΓ ® F H?©G3@0®Kl· ■ — -----



' d ,2, 14 January Ί975


Following is text of Prime Minister's press conference held at 0830 hours Sunday, 15 December 1974=


Regarding the policy of immigration you have at the moment in Australia we see there is a kind of curtailment= There is a kind of hunch^or some people, especially the settlers in Australia, feel that although you still have this curtailment

on^there is a kind of preference to some of the people coming from the West which is a sort of undeclared policy of the Austra­ lian Gpvernmento I'd just like to find out whether this is correct or not?

Prime Ministers

There is a curtailment in the overall immigration to Australia because of unemployment which is at present in Australia now^but there is no curtailment on regional or racial grounds = There has been a curtailment percentage wise in respect to

European migration just as much as there has been in respect to migration within our region= One of the factors which entitles a person to come as a migrant to Australia is the fact that he has close relatives in Australia nominating him^ such as parents,

children or dependant brothers or sisters= There would very likely be more such persons in Australia from Europe than from the region but, nevertheless, the qualifications are the same and have been since my government was elected two years ago . in respect of all people seeking to come to Australia= I think there are many thousands I'm not sure3there's about 30,000 people in Australia who have come from Sri Lanka,


If I may just add one more question to that. What would have been the considerations for the curtailment =· were they political or ,,,,

Prime Ministers ‘



Mr Prime Minister, you are a firm supporter of our Prime Minister's Indian Ocean Peace Zone idea. What are your views on building of the Diego Garcia base. The Diego Garcia base - Anglo-American - base in the Indian Ocean?


- 2 -

Prime Minister:

Yes, when we came into office we voted in the United Nations General Assembly in favour of Sri Lanka's pro­ posal for a Zone of Peace in the Indian Ocean» The previous government had not voted for or against the proposal. It had

abstained in the vote upon it. We remain of the view that it is helpful if the two Great Powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, the two great naval powers in the world do not increase their forces in the Indian Ocean. We resist the escalation of, or any confrontation between them. We have made it plain in both Washington and Moscow that that

is our view. I've made it plain in Washington a couple of months ago and I will be doing it in Moscow in one month.


As a follow up to this question may I know your re­ actions about the recent CENTO exercises in the Indian Ocean,

Prime Minister:

I wouldn't express a view on the CENTO ones - I'm not familiar enough with them and, of course, we aren't a member of CENTO.


In your discussions last night with our Prime Minister did you suggest that Sri Lanka should join ASEAN.

Prime Ministers

The talks between the Prime Minister and me were just between us, there were no others there at all - they were private. So I think that you ought to ask any questions like that if I may suggest in the form of "Do I favour any such proposal?"

Reporters Neville De Silva - New York Times

. One of the objectives of the Indian Ocean Peace Zone proposal is to see that the Indian Ocean is free of foreign military bases. Is it not inconsistent that you should support the Peace Zone proposal while you permit foreign bases to exist

on your territory? I refer in particular to the North West Cape base.

Prime Ministers

There is only one military base on Australian terri­ tory. It is the U.S. Naval Communications Station at North West Cape. It was established under a 25 year arrangement made in 1963. It thus has 14 years to run. I don't believe the •

• o./3

- 3 -

arrangement would have been made these days» There have been some necessary and acceptable alterations made to it since my government came into office» I signed those arrangements» I expect they will be made statutory in this coming year.

The arrangements are there and, of course, one cannot break arrangements» '

Reporter: Robert Haupt - Australian Financial Review»

Following Mr De Silva’s question, could we take it from your remarks that if you were in power when the North West Cape Agreement comes up for renewal you will do everything in your power to end the arrangement»

Prime Minister:

This is too speculative - I won’t answer that» That's 14 years ahead» I expect to be in retirement then» I will retire midway between now and that time»

Reporter: : :

- Hpw. will you regard our Prime Minister as the leader of the non-aligned nations ?

Prime Minister: .

- Mrs Bandaranaike has played a leading role in the while non-aligned movement» She and President Tito, I believe, are the only Heads of Government or Heads of State who have attended all four Non-Aligned Conferences» I believe, it is a

very fitting tribute to Mrs Bandaranaike’s status in the world and in the Non-Aligned Movement, that she will be the hostess to the next conference here in Colombo in 1976»

Reporter: U»P»I=

Mr Primd Minister, any chance of Australia partici­ pating in; the next Non-Aligned Conference? > # * J

Prime Minister: '

- We aren’t a non-aligned country but we would be very happy to attend if we were invited as an observer» ·' - . - _

Reporter: Neville De Silva - New York Times

Would you care to comment on Mr Brezhnev’s proposal for Asian collective security systems»

Prime Minister:

No» The proposal was made about three years or so ago now,» 1 would, rather see what the present objectives or proposal are - I can do that within a month» I ’d rather hear



- 4 -

directly, soon, rather than comment at this distance from the original proposal.

Reporter: Manik De Silva - Ceylon Daily News.

Prime Minister:

Very good editorial yesterday, good. .


Could you,kindly comment on future Sri Lanka/ Australian relations? Particularly in the context of your having met our Prime Minister last night.

Prime Minister:

I believe that there are very good opportunities for making the relations between Sri Lanka and Australia more direct and substantial - the Prime Minister asked me to visit Ceylon within a couple of weeks of my becoming Prime Minister.

It was one of the very first invitations I received. I think I can say that X came to know the Prime Minister quite well at Ottawa last August, during the meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government. My wife was there and Mrs Bandaranaike1s

daughters were there and so not only during the Conference which extended over, I think, seven working days, but also the intervening weekend and at various other occasions one of which was her gracious invitation to me to have lunch with her.

Ites been, of course, a ver' great pleasure for me to spend some hours with her last night. She has been.a Head of Government for longer than most people in the world. She became the Head of Government, of course, in 1960 and has

continued with a five year interval and she remains a figure of very great international interest because she was the first woman to become a Prime Minister.

Reporter s

De Silva ....

Prime Minister:

Another De Silva. The Portuguese influence is stil] terribly strong here. .


Do you see any faint signs of progress towards detente between China and the Soviet Union?

Prime Minister:

I'd rather not comment on this matter. I'd obvious! be in a better position to make an assessment in a month's time after I've been to the Soviet Union. I'm relatively hopeful

- 5 -

that there are such signs. The great step towards detente recently has been the meeting between Mr Brezhnev and Mr Ford in Vladivostok,



Prime Minister?

Oh no, a troika. Are there any other De Silva’s here? Four De Silvas -= a quadrumverate.

Reporter s

How favourable do you think your relations are with the European Common Market?

Prime Ministers

The European Economic Community is one of the three great commercial areas of interest to Australia, In very rough terms one third of Australia’s trade takes place with the EEC^ one third with Japan and one third with the United States, Clearly, therefore, if is very important to Australia that she

should be aware of and she should be involved in the affairs of the Common Market, Traditionally, Australia’s interests with the member countries of the Common Market has been in agri­ cultural and pastoral products, Now there is a very great pros­ pect of interest in mineral products, The Common Market is

naturally concerned with the energy crisis, Australia has very great energy resources. The energy resource in which the members of the Common Market are mostly interested is uranium. We would have in Australia about one fifth of the known proven uranium reserves in the world. Furthermore, Europe is interested

in, for instance, our coal to a certain'extent because there again we have very great coal'reserves of all sorts for hydro­ genation and for steaming and for metallurgical purposes, The lot,,, we have in very good quantities and Europe has made it plain by delegations for instance, the Foreign Minister of the

EEC, Sir Christopher Soames, has been to Australia and in a some­ what relate area the OECD, the Secretary-General, Emile Van Lennep , has been twice to Australia, Now it’s been very clear to me in the conversations which I myself have had and

several of my Ministers have had with Sir Christopher Soames and t(r van Lennep that the Common Market is very interested in the development of Australia's resources and the Common Market's participation in that development. Furthermore, there is the

general question of trade and investment and de^"1 onment amonn court»·' of the Common Market, The great economic problems which beset Australia are just the same as those which beset the Common Market countries

and in fact, of course, all the OECD countries because the OECD consists in effect of the Common Market, most of them, and Australia, New Zealand and Japan and the United States and Canada,

- 6 -

So it1s very important indeed that these countries, as I point out, three quarters of Australia"s trade takes place within the OECD context and most of our investment and technology is in that context. Now in these circumstances it is very important

indeed that Australia and the EEC should be constantly in contact.



Prime Minister;

Another Portuguese? Any more Fernando's or Perara no Perera's? Right four De Silvas, two Fernandos.


What are your relations with the People's Republic of China and have they improved since you became Prime Minister?

Prime Minister;

Close - yes= My government within a couple of weeks of coming to office normalised relations with the People's Republic of China and, Mr Bowen, the Special Minister of State, the Minister who assists me, went to China in the middle of last year, I, myself, went there with three other Ministers in November last year. The Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Cairns, who

is now the Treasurer, and at that time was the Minister for Overseas Trade, went there two months ago. There is quite a close relationship now between the PRC and Australia. This is growing commercially and clearly, of course, we take into acco

what the attitudes of China ar^Likely to be to our neighbours and the attitudes of our neighbours to China. It is significant of course, that there has been a considerable movement among the ASEAN countries to normalise relations with China now. Such

relations have been established between Malaysia and China, and there have been top visits from Thailand and the Philippines to China.


Prime Minister;

What's your name? .


Tamil Newspaper.

The Western nations are militarily and physically strong and we, in our view, we are spiritually strong. Stronger than the military strength of the Western nations. So as well as Australia is concerned, which one it gives top priority -

for the spiritual side or the physical side?


- 7 -

Prime Ministers

I don't know that any answer I could give to that question would be satisfactory0 I certainly observe and. applaud the spiritual strength of many countries in. this: region» It is one of the very hopeful signs that there are several

countries in this region which have the confidence, the dignity, which stems from having centuries of identity in the one geo­ graphical area and that identity, that confidence, that serenity, has survived onslaughts from outside= Your own country has been

ruled by three European nations, Three great empires in the last four centuries or so, The empires are gone and Sri Lanka remains. There are several other countries which have that same continuity and cohesion and identity in a geographical area and they also have the advantage of having over centuries been

able to come to some accommodation with their neighbours who may be different in religion or race or history but, nevertheless, have a similar cohesion, identity and confidence. There are great advantages in this. The old intrusion from Europe to

divide and rule can no longer apply, -

■ Reporters

„ When you're in, Europe, what assurances will you be giving to, particularly Italy and Germany, regarding supply of Australian uranium and the sale?

Prime Minister:

The attitudes that we've taken to supplying uranium to those countries has already been made plain on several occasions for some time past by my Minister for Minerals and Energy,, They relate to the uses,'the peaceful uses, that will be made of nuclear fuels. The degree of control exercised over them within Australia, and the proper return which Australia will get from

them and participation which Australia will get in them. Very obviously there are in the world which have much greater technology than Australia can hppe to the near future or which, say Japan has at this stage. Now in these

circumstances, it's very material to discuss these matters on the spot and I'll be visiting Brussels, the capital of the Common Market, and of course, also Germany and France and Italy and Britain, all of which have interests in this matter, and I'm

accompanied by Sir Lenox Hewitt, the Secretary of the Department of Minerals and Energy, who has been involved in all these matters in all these countries throughout our terra of office.

Reporter De Silva "N,Y„ Times1 1 May I turn from the spiritual to the political, . Would you care to comment on Pakistan's proposal for a nuclear weapon free zone in South Asia, ■ Prime Minister: .

We supported this proposal as we supported all the similar proposals in the United Nations in the last few weeks,


- 8 -

Iran made one and there have been several.

Reporter Lanka Diva

In more of the same (indistinct) of Mr Brezhnev's suggestion of collective security system and the expansion of ASEAN communityo

Prime Minister:

Well we aren't a member of ASEAN and what the attitude of the members of ASEAN to expanding their membership may be, is a matter for them. ASEAN has been a most valuable arrangement and it has developed consistently over the years. Australia would view with favour any expansion of ASEAN. Now which countries should come in is really not for Australia to

suggest - it is for the five present members.

Reporter s ·

Before the Second World War there were eight major powers - Germany, Italy,’ Japan, Britain, Russia, America and all those things. Now it is reduced to two world super powers. That is because of this physical conflict. Because of the physical conflict world powers have reduced to two from eight.

So in that case, eight of supposed countries like Asia join these countries of Asia the other neighbouring countries that means to make the Indian Ocean a free zone or something like that. If it desists from joining the military pacts I think

it would be very helpful to the benefit of the future world.

Prime Minister:

I°m not sure if I caught or followed everything you were putting to me. I doubt if there will be any more military pacts in the world. There haven't been any new ones for many years now. There were a few made in the 1960's in the Viet-Nam context and the less said about them the better. And the ones that wer^jhade in the 50' s have not really been

expanded much since. I think the days of military pacts are numbered. I don't know of any which any of the great powers are now seeking to form.

Reporters Fernando

Mr Prime Minister would you care to comment on the opposition to your overseas journey from the home front and also on thereported bomb scare on beard the plane you arrived on.

Prime Minister:

Oh I won't comment on the first because that happens whenever ..... we are still very provincial, I must confess. And on the other one it bears out the wisdom of the Head of Government chartering his own plane in this respect.

If this bomb scare had been made in respect of a commercial

. . . /9

- 9 -

plane then the whole of the journey would have had to be dis­ rupted = We would have had to delay or deflight, go back to base, unload and so on. But we knew for certain what was on the plane, so any scare like that we knew to be a complete hoax. You wouldn’t know in the case of a commercial aircraft because you can’t be certain what is in the holds or the

luggage or on the persons of the passengers. So it would seem, if one travelled commercially it would not only disrupt the official party it would inconvenience and distress the unofficial, the civilian passengers as well.

Reporter :

Did it bother you in any way.

Prime Minister:

I didn’t know about it until during dinner last night. It didn’t put me off the food.


Mr Prime Minister may I ask you a question on cricket. You know India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are forming the Asian Cricket Conference because since many years Ceylon, Sri Lanka has been trying to get into the International Cricket Conference.

Prime Ministers



And unfortunately she has been kept out because Australia and Britain, I believe, have a veto power, in the International Cricket Conference. So we have just formed the Asian Cricket Conference. What are your views on it Mr Prime Minister. ,

Prime Ministers

Well I ’m very glad to hear this. I didn’t know that Australia and Britain had veto powers in this respect. I am embarrassed to hear it. Nevertheless as you appreciate the sporting associations are entirely voluntary ones as far as my

country is concerned. It’s true my government is now subsidising international sporting contests and I ’d be glad to know if there is any such veto power being used by our cricket association. If there is, it would obviously affect our view of their entitle­ ment to any subsidies in this respect. Now, I thouaht we were

going to give, or lend, a fast bowler to help in the development of cricket in this country. One of the remarkable things about the old British Empire was that all its members are - have

developed this fascination with cricket. Now India, and Pakistan .../10

- 10 -

have for a very long time. The West Indies has and I'm delighted to hear that Sri Lanka is developing it too. 1 1ve no reason to think that they shouldn11 be as outstand­ ing in the game as India and Pakistan have long been known to be, internationally.

Reporter: .

Can you enlighten us about ANZUS the pact between Australia and New Zealand and the United States - its purposes and its functions - ANZUS.

Prime Minister:

Yes. ANZUS has been there for well over 20 yeais now and it's never called in question in Australia, New Zealand or the United States. The functions of it, of course, are well known - they are set out in public documents. There is

an annual, sometimes more frequent consultation but it's just not a matter of controversy or challenge in any of the three countries.

Reporter s

Thank you, Prime Minister