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Wednesday, 20 May 1970

Mr McMAHON (LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for External Affairs) - It was rather difficult to follow the confused statement made by the honourable gentleman. 1 should first of all point out to him as a matter of definition that the word 'genocide' does not apply in this case for 2 different reasons. The first is that he was dealing on the one hand with Vietnamese and on the other with some South Vietnamese residents of Cambodia. The second point is that there is no proof that the Cambodians did embark upon a process of getting rid of the South Vietnamese residents in their country. Accusations were made. They were never proved, and the accusations have since been dropped. I took the initiative myself, when I was in Saigon, to see whether we could get a goodwill mission to go to Cambodia to try to ensure that the Cambodians, and the South Vietnamese did not quarrel the one with the other.

Subsequent to that, and particularly through the influence of the Papal Nuncio, the Cambodian Government agreed to accept not a goodwill mission but an official mission in order to try to ensure the repatriation of South Vietnamese or Vietnamese residents from Cambodia. The mission was well received and, in fact, many, many people - I could put it at as many as 4,000 to my knowledge at the present moment - have been returned or are in the course of repatriation.

The Lon Nol Government of Cambodia knows that the possibilities of ill will between the 2 ethnic groups do exist. I am confident that this Government will do all in its power to reduce the tensions and to try to ensure that all concerned will fight the common enemy and not one with the other. What I do want to emphasise is this: While I know that deaths have occurred, the matter of who was responsible for the large scale massacres has not been proved. I can assure the honourable gentleman again that the Lon Nol Government in Cambodia is doing all that it can to reduce the possibilities of such bloodshed.

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