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Wednesday, 4 March 1970

Mr McMAHON - It is well known to the House, and I believe it is well known to the Australian people, that the North Vietnamese, assisted by the Communist Pathet Lao, have re-occupied the Plain of Jars and have pressed westward to Muong Soui after capturing Xieng Khouang, the airfield. Previously this field had been occupied by the Vang Pao forces. So we have clear evidence that the North Vietnamese are engaged in these operations. Souvanna Phouma, the Prime Minister of Laos, has informed us that the numbers involved are of the order of 50,000 or more and confirmatory evidence of this estimate comes from United States sources. I also mention to the honourable gentleman that Communist road builders are constructing a road from Chinese Communist territory down to Pak Beng on the Mekong River, close to the Thai border. This, of course, is of great concern to the Thai Government. The honourable gentleman also asked about the opinion of Sir Robert Thompson, one of the world's experts on guerilla and insurgency operations. He said, and has repeated, that he believes in the domino theory. His words were: T do not only believe in this but I have confirmation from the dominoes themselves'. He obviously meant by that comment that during his discussions with the governments of South East Asian countries they have expressed the opinion to him that the domino theory is valid.

In the last part of his question the honourable gentleman asked about the validity of the theory itself. I have said in this House and I repeat, because we may now be witnessing the possibility of this theory becoming a fact, that the domino theory is valid in this sense. If Laos were to fall there is no doubt that the theory would apply and that the danger to neighbouring countries would correspondingly increase. Sir, if in a crucial area South Vietnam were to fall to Communist domination and Communist influences we would again have proof of the validity of this theory. I add one statement to what 1 have said: We on this side of the House make it clear, as the Americans have made it clear, that we will protect South Vietnam's right of self-determination and that we will not permit it to be subverted by outside influences. We do not want to see the dominoes given one further push to the south and closer to our shores.

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