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Tuesday, 18 October 1983
Page: 1812


Mr PEACOCK —My question is addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade. Bearing in mind the tattered state of Australian relations with the Association of South East Asian Nations, as borne out by Indonesia's expressed disillusion with the remarks of the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the United Nations regarding self-determination in East Timor, criticism by the Singapore Foreign Minister of the Australian Government's refusal to co-sponsor the ASEAN sponsored resolution on Kampuchea, the biting criticism of the Thai Foreign Minister that 'if Australia did not want ASEAN as a true friend ASEAN would have to consider that', the rumblings within the Malaysian delegation to the United Nations both before and after the Foreign Minister's address, and the Philippines' disappointment at the deferral of defence supply contracts with the Philippines, all contributing to the unprecedented suspension of ASEAN- Australian officials' talks and the reported consideration again today by ASEAN economic Ministers of economic sanctions against Australia, I ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade whether he recognises the real threat of these developments to Australia's trading interests. What action is he taking to ensure that damage to Australian business and Australian industry does not reach massive proportions as a consequence of this Government's abject handling of regional affairs?


Mr LIONEL BOWEN —In keeping with those on this side of the House, I will give a short answer. Those matters concerning the thrust of the question relate to the portfolio of my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I want to tell the honourable member that I have no worries at all about trade with ASEAN. It is increasing. It is doing very well. If he looks at some of the recent statistics he will find that investments by Australians in the ASEAN area have risen by 25 per cent. It is a very important area for trade. I have had discussions with a number of representatives from the ASEAN area. All are anxious to improve trading prospects with Australia because that would be to their advantage as well as to ours. By the same token, a number of Australian companies are entering into joint ventures. In other words, all signals indicate that there will be even more rapid progress in the next six months than there was in the last six months.