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Thursday, 22 May 1980
Page: 3151

Mr Humphreys asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 2 April 1 980:

(1)   Has his attention been drawn to an article entitled Foreign Policy wrongly oriented' contained in the January 1980 edition of Manufacturers' Bulletin published by the Chamber of Manufacturers of New South Wales.

(2)   Have other Government Ministers variously expressed the opinion that our economic recovery is export-oriented away from the West to South East Asia.

(3)   If so, are Australian foreign policies disproportionately oriented towards western countries, particularly Europe and the United States of America.

Mr Peacock - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   My attention has been drawn to the article entitled Foreign Policy wrongly oriented' in the January 1980 edition of the Manufacturer's Bulletin.

(2)   Ministers, including myself, have noted that there will be increasing opportunities for Australian exports in South East Asian countries and have called on Australians to take full advantage of these opportunities. Without detracting from the importance of South East Asia the Government must also take account of the need to support exports to those countries which remain our major trading partners, as well as to explore new opportunities for export promotion. We should not neglect trading opportunities in any region, whether in Europe, the United States or South East Asia.

(3)   It is not accurate to say that Australian foreign policy, and the resources of the Depanment of Foreign Affairs, are disproportionately oriented to Western countries, particularly Europe and the United States of America. Our foreign policy effort and the Government's resources, are concentrated where Australia's interests are most substantial. The substance of a relationship is gauged by the degree of political, economic, strategic, cultural, consular and social interests in it. The economic interests itself is not confined to trade, although in many of our relationships it is a major aspect.

Recent events in Iran and Afghanistan indicate the continuing importance of political and strategic considerations in our foreign relations and underline the need to maintain substantial representation in allied and like-minded countries.

Finally, South East Asia has been and remains an area at the centre of Australian foreign policy. The priority the Government attaches to South East Asia and the resources it devotes to consultation and co-operation with the countries of this region exceed the level which would be justified if exports were the sole determinant of foreign policy and the allocation of Australia's overseas resources.

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