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Tuesday, 26 March 1968

Mr HASLUCK (Curtin) (Minister for External Affairs) - by leave - Mr Speaker, as this is my first ministerial statement in the new session of Parliament I am going to open by stating very briefly the broad principles and objectives of Australian foreign policy. I shall not elaborate the various points, as they have all been developed in earlier statements.

The primary objective of Australian foreign policy is to protect and advance Australian interests. This is not interpreted narrowly, for our own welfare and security are bound up with that of others. We cannot live prosperous and safe if a great part of the world is living in poverty without hope and is torn by war.

Second, and following from that, Australia works for a world order based on the principles and purposes of the United Nations. We want to see the great powers co-operating together to the greatest extent' possible to prevent major wars, to ease tensions, and to help the' economic development of the whole world. We are conscious of the great world issues of power and their interaction with issues of regional security. We recognise the special responsibilities of the great powers, as the charter of the United Nations does, but we also insist on a proper role being accorded to the middle and small powers, which for their part have responsibilities to discharge and rights to be respected. Australia plays its part in collective defence against aggression.

Third, Australia has a direct and special interest in the region of Southern and Eastern Asia, the Western Pacific, and the Indian Ocean, for this is where we Jive. Australia seeks through its diplomatic missions and in other ways to understand each of the neighbouring countries and its interests and to help them to understand us. Australia participates actively and constructively in a number of regional bodies with many of its Asian neighbours. Australia welcomes the growing movement towards regional co-operation in Asia. This cooperation is an expression of national independence as well as a method' of supporting that independence. Regional co-operation is proceeding in a variety of ways and, in addition to the other countries of the area, Australia, India, Indonesia and Japan have special contributions to make in the common interest. The most difficult task of all - and it is a global as well as a regional task - is that of reaching the point where the mainland of China will fit into good international relations. There is no simple answer to that; the goal has to be sought over a period of time but we have seen it for many years past as one of the major international problems of our time.

Fourth, Australia co-operates closely and responsibly with the United States of America. Our relationship is formally expressed in ANZUS; in daily practice it finds expression in a constant exchange of views and in working together in many fields. The United States is our most powerful ally.

Fifth, Australia has special relationships with countries of the Commonwealth. With Britain we have deep historical ties and shared institutions and traditions. New Zealand is our neighbour and sister nation and on vital international issues we can speak as one. In addition to Australia and New Zealand, there are no fewer than six other Commonwealth countries in our region and vicinity - Pakistan, India. Ceylon, Malaysia, Singapore and Mauritius. There are also the smaller and emerging island territories in the South Pacific, most of them but not all in the Commonwealth, and Australia has a particular call to co-operate with them.

Sixth, as a part of all the foregoing, Australia gives special weight to the economic element in international affairs. As a country dependent still on its exports of food and raw materials, and on investment for development, Australia needs an expanding world economy and trade outlets and international monetary stability. Australia contributes economic assistance to other countries and will continue to do so. We take an active part in international economic affairs. We believe that continued international action in the economic field is essential in tackling world problems.

Finally, Australia observes basic human rights and fundamental freedoms at home and believes in the promotion and encouragement of respect for them in the rest of the world without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.

Having thus set out in bare terms - I recognise they are very bare and summary terms - the main principles and present-day objectives of Australian foreign policy, I turn now to some current questions. I intend to confine this statement to three matters of immediate concern to Australia - Vietnam, the British withdrawal from Malaysia, and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons - in order that reasonable limits of time may not be exceeded.

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