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Tuesday, 15 October 1974
Page: 1703

Senator WALSH (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Is it correct that the Liberal Party's new platform no longer pretends that the SEATO treaty has anything to do with Australia's defence? If so, does this indicate that the Liberal Party has begun to catch up with the realities of the 1960s?

Senator Greenwood - Mr President,I rise to order. The question of what the Liberal Party has as its policy may well be a matter of great public concern to the people of Australia in the near future; but it is not a matter for which I think even Senator Willesee would claim any responsibility. I submit that it is not a matter of public affairs upon which questions may be directed.

The PRESIDENT - I think it is within the Minister's discretion to answer the question. I call Senator Willesee, the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Senator WILLESEE -I hope that, upon whatever other ground Senator Greenwood may have raised that point of order, he is not resting his case upon precedent. I do not know what the Liberal Party decided. I was out of the country when the Liberal Party held its conference, or whatever it is called. So I am not aware of what was decided. I have just attended the Council meeting of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. The situation in relation to SEATO is that all countries that are still members of it are quite happy with the arrangements that were floated last year by New Zealand and Australia. Those arrangements recognise that there is a vastly different situation existing now compared to the time when SEATO was set up. It was really set up for the containment of the People's Republic of China. That situation has disappeared. I could not imagine SEATO being established in today's new circumstances. What has happened is that largely the military side has been taken out of SEATO. The countries within SEATO still work very happily together. All the member countries in the region- the Asian countries- are very happy with the way the organisation is proceeding, as are the non-regional countries such as the United States of America, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia.

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