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Tuesday, 3 December 1985
Page: 2774

Senator MASON —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. It follows an answer in the Hansard of 11 November to an earlier question of mine concerning the attitude of the Australian Government to the dispatch of Australian troops to the Philippines in the event of a major insurrection there. Can the Minister understand that the Australian people would wish to know clearly and definitely whether or not Australians could be committed to what might well be another Vietnam in the Philippines? Does the Minister agree, in view of the fast deteriorating military and political situation there, that the statements in his answer to me that `Australia's response to hypothetical situations cannot be determined in advance' and that `the nature of any support it might give would be a matter for decision by the government of the day' represent a clear abdication by the Hawke Government from a vitally important decision as far as all Australians are concerned? If Article 4 of the ANZUS Treaty appears to oblige Australia to send troops to the Philippines, as the Minister's reply indicates, will the Government negotiate immediately to change it so that there can be no question of Australians being committed to fight a war in support of the Marcos regime?

Senator GARETH EVANS —As to the first question, yes; as to the second question, no. If the issue should cease to be hypothetical, the Hawke Government will respond appropriately to Australia's national interest, as indeed it always has done. As to the third part of the question, I have nothing whatsoever to add to my answer of 11 November given on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.