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Thursday, 10 March 1966

In conclusion, I want to say a few words about the continuing activities of my own Department in its constructive efforts to strengthen our own position in the world, to understand external problems more clearly and to contribute to their solution more helpfully. Australian diplomatic work - I am sure that many members who have travelled have observed this - is growing both in range and in intensity. After nearly two years' experience with the portfolio, I am personally greatly heartened at the repeated signs I have found in all parts of the world that in most of the 40 capitals in which Australia is represented we have established ourselves in truth and regard, and that we do have access to places of influence because we, or those who represent us, have earned the confidence of others. I believe from my observations that we Australians are thought of as a reliable people and I hope that nations who are undergoing trial are also thinking of us as a nation that is trying to understand and to help and to respect the rights of others.

We have also entered very largely into the diplomatic traffic of the world, both in the free capitals to which we are most closely linked - London, Washington and the international capital at the United Nations - and also in other capitals at which we are represented. Canberra itself, with our positive encouragement, is being visited to an increasing extent by statesmen of other lands and we have profited by the visits we have received over the past year by the

Vice-President of the United States, the Ministers of Defence of Britain and New Zealand, and other persons in high office from Britain, the United States, India, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, the Federal Republic of Germany, and other countries - all coming to Canberra in the course of interchange of communications between governments. The President of the Malagasy Republic was the first head of state from Africa to visit Australia. Last month the Prime Minister of Thailand, accompanied by his Foreign Minister and Minister of National Development, was here.

Then, in the reverse direction, Australian Ministers and members of Parliament have themselves travelled more frequently, particularly in Asia. Completing the process, our own ambassadors have been called frequently into consultation, both in special regional meetings under my chairmanship and by returning individually to Canberra. Personal contact has been made between myself and the Foreign Ministers of nearly all the countries with which we have relationships. I think there are only one or two out of the 40 whom I have not met.

Before passing on, I should like to express publicly - I hope all members would join me in this, particularly members who have travelled - the appreciation of the Government and, can I say, of members of the Parliament, for the many kindnesses received from our Asian neighbours. Asia is a land of courtesy. I and my colleagues and our ambassadors have appreciated greatly the consideration shown to us at all times. We have appreciated even more as a mark of growing friendship the frankness and the clearness with which the statesmen of Asia have been ready to discuss with us matters of common concern. As my own friendship and regard for them has grown, I trust their friendship and regard for us has also grown.

I think this diplomatic activity is of great importance to us. I should like to pay a tribute to those representatives of Australia who bear the brunt of carrying on Australia's diplomatic activity, sometimes in very difficult circumstances. A nation of our size is not heard by speaking loudly, it is not heard by speaking all the time. We are listened to and we have influence if others believe that we talk sense, that we talk in good faith and that we back up our wor:,s with deeds. We are trying to establish those conditions in our diplomatic service and I am encouraged to believe that we are succeeding.

I present the following paper -

Foreign Affairs- Ministerial Statement, 10th March 1966- and move -

That the House lake note of the paper.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Allan Fraser) adjourned.

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