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Thursday, 28 March 1968

Mr UREN - With respect and regret I withdraw the remark.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will withdraw the remark unconditionally.

Mr UREN - I withdraw the remark unconditionally. What is the position? The Government has always believed that it could achieve a military victory in Vietnam. Most world leaders have expressed the view that there can never be a military victory in Vietnam for either side; that a solution has to be reached at the conference table. During the Tet offensive we saw the infiltration of the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese into thirty provincial capitals. Battalions of men - not just a few - moved into Saigon and Hue. Nobody seemed to be aware of this infiltration, but the Vietcong moved in even as far as the United States Embassy in Saigon.

Denis Warner, Melbourne 'Herald' journalist stated in an article on 18th March 1968:

Roads 1 used to drive along only a few years ago are not only unsafe - some have disappeared.

The country has become a series of American and allied islands dotted on s Vietcong and North Vietnamese sea.

Even most provincial capitals cannot be regarded as secure.

Pacification in the sense of providing security for villages and hamlets is dead. 1 hesitate to discuss just what proportion of the population and countryside is under Government and allied control.

A figure of 3% of the total area under control both by day and night is at best only a guess but it may help to give some idea of the effect of the Tet offensive.

Mr Beaton - Who said this?

Mr UREN - Denis Warner, a journalist on the Melbourne 'Herald' who has supported the Government's policy. That is what he had to say about the position in Vietnam. In the last two minutes that are available to me I ask the Government what its policy is and where it stands. Does it intend to ask for more and more troops? Does it intend to escalate this war? Does it know about the scare that General Westmoreland put into the whole financial world when he asked for another 206,000 troops, knowing quite well that at the present time the United States is spending $36,000m a year in Vietnam, where it has half a million troops? Is it realised that this additional request by General Westmoreland has frightened the financial world and consequently confidence has been lost in the United States dollar?

In conclusion, Mr Speaker, what does the Australian Labor Party believe should be done? We say: Stop the bombing now. Recognise the National Liberation Front. Achieve a holding position so that we can have a negotiated peace in Vietnam. It may be a long drawn out war, but this would be- a de-escalation of the war. If we escalate it further, it could lead to another world war.

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