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Thursday, 15 October 1970

Mr McMAHON - First, our policy is based upon and has always been based upon the rights of the countries of the whole of South East Asia to determine their own future and to ensure that they have the right of electing their own governments. In other words these governments should not be imposed upon the various countries by outside force and violence. That is our policy and that is one of the reasons why our troops are now stationed in South Vietnam. We have troops stationed in Malaysia and Singapore because we believe that this will give to these countries the confidence to continue with the policies not only of development but of steady improvement in their own defence capabilities.

Mr Reynolds - What, with 1,200 troops?

Mr MCMAHON - Yes, with 1,200 troops. You might not like this but the simple fact is that the countries concerned have to take the responsibility and not you people - particularly the fellow who interjected - who want to scuttle-

Mr SPEAKER - 1 remind the Minister that he should use the terms 'honourable gentleman'.

Mr MCMAHON - 1 find it difficult to use that phrase but in deference to your ruling, Mr Speaker, I will do so. If the honourable gentleman had listened to what I said in answer to the second question asked this morning he would have realised that there has been no change whatsoever in the relationship between Malaysia and Australia since the announcement by the Prime Minister of Malaysia that he wants a neutral, free and independent Malaysia. Equally too does the Malaysian Prime Minister want an independent, free and neutral Cambodia and Vietnam. What the honourable gentleman has to recognise is that it is one thing to want something to happen; it is another to prevail upon Communists, particularly the North Vietnamese and their associates, to agree to exactly the same principles. If we find that the North Vietnamese Army and its associates respond in a sensible way to the initiatives of the President of the United States of America - that is, that there should be a stand still cease fire - there should be a political- adjustment based upon the aspirations of the whole of the peoples of South Vietnam. If that happens it will be the reason for us to have another look and see whether we can change in any way our policy with regard to helping the defence of these countries and stationing troops there.

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