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Tuesday, 8 November 1983
Page: 2367


Mr MacKELLAR —I draw the Prime Minister's attention to today's newspaper reports on the decision of Association of South East Asian Nations foreign Ministers to refer to him the dispute that has arisen over Australia's policy towards Vietnam 's occupation of Kampuchea. Notwithstanding his previous assurances, does he now recognise that ASEAN's decision to suspend dialogue with Australia pending these talks is a serious development? What policies will be put in place to overcome these differences which have developed over a matter fundamental to the security interests of ASEAN and Australia?


Mr HAWKE —I welcome the question from the honourable member for Warringah. Neither the Minister for Foreign Affairs nor I have sought to deny the fact that some degree of difficulty has arisen in the minds of our ASEAN friends and colleagues as a result of the decision of our Government not to co-sponsor the ASEAN resolution on Kampuchea.

It would be futile to attempt to deny that fact. But there has been an overblowing by some people of the situation. I suggest to the honourable member that the best interests of this country are not served by an attempt on the part of people in this country to overstate that situation. I will repeat what I said to the House before on this issue as a matter of substance and will then come to what we intend to do about it. I remind the House that what I said was that the Foreign Minister and I have made it quite clear that we agree with the substantial thrust of the resolution of the ASEAN countries, and, indeed, of course, we voted for it. In the General Assembly our representative subsequently made a very clear statement in respect of the question of the presence of the troops of Vietnam in Kampuchea; he unequivocally condemned that action and said that a necessary condition of the achievement of a proper resolution of the tragic situation in Kampuchea required the withdrawal of those troops.

The point in respect of the resolution which caused us not to co-sponsor was a difference of emphasis in regard to the coalition in Kampuchea which, as honourable members know, contains the Khmer Rouge forces. This Government could not bring itself to agree with the emphasis there which appears, even inferentially, to endorse those forces. Having said that, the Foreign Minister and I have discussed this issue because we do not want to see any misunderstanding on the part of our ASEAN colleagues. I believe the Foreign Minister will today be speaking to the representatives of the ASEAN countries and I will be stopping in Thailand on my way to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. We will be there for some three days-at the invitation, naturally, of the Prime Minister of Thailand-and talks are scheduled with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. I am totally confident that after I have had those discussions and after my colleague the Foreign Minister has had his discussions with the representatives of the ASEAN countries, they will fully understand the considerations which were in our minds.

I assure all honourable members of this House that the basic position of this Government in regard to the tragedy of Kampuchea is at one with that of our colleagues of ASEAN. The conditions that we see as necessary-a view which I believe will be shared by all members of this House-for the resolution of that matter are: Firstly, the withdrawal of the forces of Vietnam; secondly, that in any vacuum so created there be left no condition whereby the murderous forces of Pol Pot will be once again able to re-establish the sort of regime which terrorised and tyrannised that country tragically for so long; and, thirdly, that there will be the opportunity for the people of Kampuchea freely to express their will and to determine the form of government that they will have, and, within that situation, an opportunity for the return of the Kampuchean refugees.