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Tuesday, 19 May 1970

Mr McMAHON (LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for External Affairs) - I remember the honourable member asking me a question immediately before I left for Djakarta. Several proposals were made by the Australian Government to the delegation in order to ensure that the established institutions should do their best to mobilise world opinion in the interests of the free countries of South East Asia and in particular that we should do all in our power to ensure not only that Cambodia be free and independent but also that it remain a neutral power in that part of the world. What transpired was that a resolution was moved and passed that 3 countries - Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia - should form a committee and they should approach the members of the International Control Commission and consult with them in order to ensure that the Commission be reactivated. 1 have read all the cables as to what is likely to happen. I know that in the case of Poland there has been a flat refusal. In the case of India there appears to be not a great deal of enthusiasm and so far the response has been negative. In the case of the Canadian Government we understand that the conditions under which it would agree to participation again or reactivation again are that the Commission should be effective and efficient; that there should not be a unanimity rule so that everyone has to agree; thirdly, that action should not be delayed by the requirement to submit their reports for editing by the Geneva Conference Co-Chairmen; finally, that they have the right of mobility to make an independent investigation and to report independently. But the 3 countries involved - Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia - now have the authority to conduct the consultations. I can only hope that these great nations, representing - as they do - 250 million people of the Asian region will be able to bring their influence to bear on other countries, particularly the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, in an attempt to make some contribution towards the defence of freedom and of independence in South East Asia.

As to the second part of the honourable member's question which relates to a goodwill mission to proceed to Cambodia, one or two nations thought that this was not desirable because they felt - and I understood their feeling and consequently withdrew the Australian recommendation - that if it was agreed in one case then other countries could ask that conditions be examined within their own borders and this could lead to a great number of problems for them. I repeat that I understood their problems. I was sympathetic to their request and I withdrew the Australian recommendation.

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