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Thursday, 22 May 1980
Page: 3054


Mr GRAHAM (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question, which I address to the Prime Minister, is related to the question answered this morning by the Minister for Primary Industry. Is there any inconsistency between the Government's policy on grain sales to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Government's views on Australian participation in the Moscow Olympic Games?


Mr MALCOLM FRASER (WANNON, VICTORIA) (Prime Minister) -The Minister for Primary Industry has made it perfectly plain that the Government's position in relation to wheat and grain sales has not altered from the original statement on this matter. Indeed, in the intervening months there have been a number of occasions on which sales to the Soviet Union have been disallowed because we regarded them as unusual and as sales that would have in fact been picking up some of the shortfall arising from the United States decision, and, of course, we undertook not to do that. As my colleague has pointed out, the suggestions in the media this morning, and from the Australian Broadcasting Commission in particular, that there is an open slather for wheat sales to the Soviet Union, is a total and complete misrepresentation of the facts of the situation. What had been done in the first place does not relate to wheat whatsoever. In relation to wheat, our approach will be entirely consistent with our commitments earlier this year.

So far as coarse grains are concerned, my colleague has made it quite plain that the negotiation that may be undertaken would relate only to 25 per cent of the sales that were made last year, and the exporters might well have expected that they would have been given permission to negotiate a much higher proportion than that. So the Government has in fact taken a very hard position in allowing them to negotiate for only 25 per cent of the sales that were made during last year. That is a very hard and tough position indeed, which is consistent with our overall position. It does not represent any change in the Government's view and is totally consistent with earlier statements.

What we have said right from the outset in relation to the Olympic Games has been judged on the basis of what would bring the abhorrence of the free world home to the Soviet Government and people more clearly and more firmly than anything else. Our views on that are well known. They have now been shown to have support not only in the United States of America and Canada but also in West Germany. In particular, throughout this period, Herr Genscher, the West German Foreign Minister, has been very outspoken among European leaders. The House might be interested to know that Herr Genscher lived for a number of his early post-war years- up to 1953 or 1954- in East Germany and therefore has some personal experience of the Soviet system and of Soviet activities.

The Soviets are digging in in Afghanistan. They are acting as though their position in that country is not negotiable in any sense. They are upgrading military capacities in Afghanistan, with clear strategic implications. This is a time when the free world needs to demonstrate that it has a determined view on this matter, that it is important to get a message through to the Soviet Union that further aggressions will meet the firmest possible resistance from the United States and those who support the United States and western Europe. Therefore, the Australian support for a boycott of the Olympic Games is, in the view of the Government, an important matter going far beyond sport and going far beyond its effect on athletes, which we understand only too well. It is something which will have implications for the future of this nation and for all people in this nation.

Over recent times my colleague the Minister for Home Affairs has been keeping closely in touch with the Olympic executive. We are advising the Olympic executive that the Minister for Home Affairs and the Minister for Foreign Affairs will hold themselves available to talk with the executive before the final decision is made, if that should be the wish of the executive. If there is a need for any further clarification of Government views or attitudes or the position that has been adopted by other countries or other sporting bodies, the Ministers are available for consultation with the executive. The Government plainly hopes that the view that it has taken will be supported. We regard it as a matter of high national interest.







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