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Thursday, 7 October 1971
Page: 2014

Mr WHITLAM (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the Prime Minister whether he knew in advance the purport of the remarks delivered by the Foreign Minister yesterday in New York and whether he agreed to their delivery in that particular forum, the AmericanAustralian Association.

Mr McMAHON (LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Prime Minister) - I can understand the sensitivity of the Australian Labor Party about the remarks that were made by my colleague in New York yesterday because I believe this shows the unbridgeable gap in both ideology and policy between the Labor Party and Liberal members on this side of the House in the coalition government on the question of the nation's security. What my colleague very rightly did was to point out that we on this side of the House believe in a policy of forward defence and for that reason we will keep our troops stationed in Malaysia and Singapore. The Opposition disagrees. It will withdraw the troops. Equally too do we believe in taking part in the security developments of the whole of the South East Asian area. The Labor Party again disagrees. Consequently it has a fundamental disagreement with us on policy itself.

Secondly, there can be no doubt at all - and this fact should not be swept under the carpet - that if the Australian Labor Party had its way the naval signal centre at North West Cape would be rendered ineffective and the Americans would be compelled to withdraw from the Pine Gap operation. We believe that they are part and parcel of the essential agreements that we are making under the ANZUS Treaty. The Government's agreements with the Americans will be maintained.

Thirdly, my colleague rightly draws attention to the degrading of the ANZUS Treaty by the Labor Party eX its last meeting in Tasmania. As I understand the position, under, I believe, Chapter 21 of the Platform and Constitution of the Labor Party the Labor Party took out that part of the old platform that said that the ANZUS Treaty is of crucial importance to the alliance between Australia and the United States. In other words, it no longer regards this Treaty as crucial to the defence of this country. We on this side of the House believe that it is crucial to the long term security of this country. I point out that the ANZUS Treaty is one between the Australian people and the people of the United States. The Treaty was passed by the Congress of the United States and is, consequently, part of the supreme law of the land of that country. It is a defence treaty and we want to retain it that way.

But, as I have said, the Labor Party wants to degrade it because it wants it to be a welfare organisation. There is no provision, either in the preamble or in the operative clauses of the Treaty, to permit this to be done. We have no doubt whatsoever that there is any prospect of this being negotiated, so we want to sustain its importance to Australia.

Now, as to whether my colleague did discuss his speech with me, no, he did not; but neither did the Leader of the Opposition discuss what he intended to do when he went to Peking. Not only did the Leader of the Opposition raise matters that concern the domestic politics of this country and try to gain the support of the Chinese for the Labor Party cause but he also insulted our allies and particularly the Japanese and the President of the United States. So, Sir, I want to-

Mr Keogh - I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister is-

Government members - Oh!

Mr SPEAKER -Order! A point of order has been raised. I call-

Mr Buchanan - He can look after himself.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I call the honourable member for Bowman.

Mr Keogh - The Prime Minister is abusing question time absolutely. He is not answering the question. If he wishes to make a policy statement, he can make it after question time.

Mr SPEAKER -The point of order is without substance.

Mr McMAHON - I have said, and I repeat, that honourable members opposite are as unduly sensitive on this matter as they are insensitive on other matters.

I finish therefore by saying that I want to indicate that the substance of what my colleague has said meets with the full approval of myself and, I believe, of all Government members. We want to sustain the American alliance.

I can make one other comment: Initially, it is true that I did state in this House that I had written to Presiden Nixon about the initial Kissinger visit to Peking. Since that date, my relationships with the President have been cordial and close and I could not want him to keep me better informed than I am at the moment.

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