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Thursday, 29 October 1970

Mr PEACOCK (KOOYONG, VICTORIA) (Minister Assisting the Prime Minister) - The honourable member has visited Vietnam and I find it amazing that he makes statements of this kind in asking his question. 1 would have thought the question was based on a dream. I fail to comprehend how he could make these implications after having visited the area. The Prime Minister has given the reasons for the withdrawal of one battalion without replacement. Those reasons are well known. The programme of Vietnamisation and the other developments he mentioned are continuing within the province. We are working closely with the South Vietnamese. There has been part of a division of United States troops within the province - which renders invalid all that the honourable member has said so far. In addition there has been close liaison at a village level both with civic action programmes and in activities of mobile advisory teams with the regional forces and the popular forces. As has been stated before, there are reasons for the motivation of the role we play in the province. The reduction of our forces in the area means that the Vietnamese are assuming more responsibility and I think that one could really say that the removal of those forces does not mean conditions are ripe for the withdrawal of all forces. This is the view of the Government. I think it runs quite counter to and is the very antithesis of the viewpoints expressed in the honourable member's question.

Mr Bryant - Would you like to debate it somewhere?

Mr PEACOCK - Yes, anywhere.

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