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Tuesday, 22 March 1966

Mr HAROLD HOLT - The honorable gentleman refers to Australian and American troops as if to create some public impression that they are the only people involved in resisting Communism in South Vietnam. In point of fact, more than 30 governments are giving assistance in one form or another to the Government of South Vietnam. Several of them are giving actual military assistance, and additional forces are coming forward now to strengthen the joint effort being made in that country. The Government has indicated the dimension of the Australian forces, and the position stands that this represents the most effective contribution that we can make at the present time having regard to the size of our forces and the commitments we have la other directions.

If at any future time it becomes necessary to review the principles involved this House will be promptly informed. From what can be foreseen the number of troops at present envisaged is not likely to be exceeded, or certainly not for some considerable time. Our provision of these troops, together with the assistance we are giving in other directions, forms part of the Australian contribution in the area in question. What honorable members should not overlook is that there is a positive and constructive side to this whole operation; there is a determination on the part of the United States Government, the Australian Government and other friendly governments taking an interest in the wellbeing of South Vietnam that there shall be rehabilitation, reconstruction and an improved economic and social order coming out of the present travail of that country. For our part, we will willingly make our contribution to this positive and constructive side of the allied effort in South Vietnam.

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