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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 3983

Mr McMAHON (LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Prime Minister and concerns the apparent and obvious inconsistency between his policies in opposition and in government. Does he realise that the answer he gave at his Press conference yesterday that Australian officials would not be allowed to visit Southern Rhodesia in a private capacity because you cannot divorce the private from the official life of an official directly contradicts the attitude he took last year when he argued that the then Minister for the Army should be permitted to visit the People's Republic of China in a private capacity without relinquishing his official position as Minister?

Mr WHITLAM - There are good international reasons, to which the right honourable gentleman when in government also subscribed, although without enthusiasm, for Australian officials not to visit Zimbabwe, the British colony of Southern Rhodesia. The present Australian Government adheres fully to those international obligations. The right honourable gentleman draws a comparison with the situation under his Government when, through whose veto nobody knows, the then Minister for the Army was precluded from visiting the People's Republic of China. The inhibitions which were then placed on the Minister for the Army visiting China were not of an international character. They were self-imposed by the then Australian Government, which adhered to the archaic notion that Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was still the President of the whole of China, including not only the province of Taiwan, where he had been in residence for more than 2 decades, but also the mainland where the Minister for the Army of that time had been invited to make a visit. There are international obligations why Australian officials and officers cannot visit Zimbabwe. There were no international reasons but only reasons based on sheer indigenous archaism why Australian Ministers were not able to visit the People's Republic of China last year. I am happy to say that those lost decades during which the Australian Government sought to impose a blackout - a veto - on communications with the People's Republic of China have now been happily forgotten.

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