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Tuesday, 26 October 1971
Page: 2496

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Leader of the Opposition) - Mr Deputy Speaker. I seek leave to make a statement on the same subject.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Mr WHITLAM - The statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) marks the end of the charades and manoeuvres of 22 years in the United Nations to exclude the Government of China. It ends, one trusts, the waste of so much diplomatic effort by Australia. Many of the most highly trained men in the Commonwealth's employment, many of the best educated and dedicated men in the service of Australia, have wasted some of the best years of their lives in a futility. I need say no more about the past. Let us look to the future now.

The most populous nation in the world, the only nuclear power in Asia, is now a member of the United Nations. It should now be possible to have a realistic treatment by the United Nations of all the matters which should properly come before it. The Minister, in the last sentence of his statement, said:


Australia - shall continue pursuit of our dialogue with the People's Republic of China, with a view to the progressive normalisation of our relations with it.

For over a year now, ever since Canada and China normalised their relations, my Party has urged that Australia should take the action that Canada took. It might not be so easy now to accord recognition of China on the terms which Canada and then Italy and many other nations have achieved in the last 12 months. One thing is clear: There is nothing to be gained by Australia or by the present Australian Government further closing their eyes to the march of events in our region. The voting in the United Nations of these resolutions - the crucial resolution being carried by a majority of over 2 to 1 - will show that not only nearly every nation in Europe, but also nearly every nation round the Indian Ocean and the nations in South East Asia with which we have been most closely associated, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, all voted for the Albanian resolution. Australia has been signally isolated in her region.

If Australia is now to have relations with China, however small and insignificant the Minister may regard our country the fact is that she cannot achieve from China any lesser terms than China has received overwhelmingly from the United Nations. One learns from the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) - as reported in Hansard a fortnight ago - that there have been ministerial emissaries to China seeking a trade mission. If Australia is to have a trade mission of the power, prestige and effectiveness of Canada's trade mission, she will have to follow the United Nations; she will have to recognise the Government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China. There is no other way that Australia can have official relations with China. China has been patient; she has comported herself throughout the last year with notable dignity. The Australian Government should now accept the situation. If we are to pursue a dialogue with the People's Republic and if we are to normalise our relations with Peking, we must now do so on the terms overwhelmingly accorded by the United Nations, including most of those countries in the Common wealth, in our region and in Europe with which we have been associated. Let us do it with as good grace as we can. The Australian Government has failed hitherto. It should now accept the facts. It should now act in Australia's interest. It should normalise relations with China. It can do so only if it follows the decision of the United Nations.

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