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Thursday, 16 September 1971
Page: 1408

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Leader of the Opposition is making a long and involved personal explanation but, at the same time, I believe that he is endeavouring to establish where he has been misrepresented.

Mr WHITLAM - It is not just my reputation but the reputation of this country and its relations as well as my relations with countries closely associated with this country which are involved. I was saying that the reports which came from Tokyo completely bear out the cordiality and the interest of my reception there. It would be easy, I believe, to establish the same as regards the Philippines. I am under some limitations as to what I can say to verify these things. I did refer on an earlier occasion, when some reference was made to this matter, to a confidential document which Ministers get, which I get, which my Deputy gets, and which I guess you, Sir, get. I cannot further specify it. But since covert references are made constantly to the fact that I might have misrepresented or misjudged Mr Chou En-lai's attitude to this matter, let me quote an official assessment - let me put it that way - of an editorial in the 'Peoples Daily' of 20th July 1971. The editorial marks the first time in 7 yean that the Chinese have noted the anniversary of the 1954 Geneva Agreements. It was also the first time since the Paris talks back in 1968 that they have made complimentary remarks about the Agreements, which were described as a great achievement'. On this matter then I want to reassert that what I have said about Mr Chou En-lai and any revived Geneva conference is something which I reported at the earliest possible time to the persons who had some concern in it on behalf of this country or its allies, and moreover, this is borne out by documents which I cannot further specify.

The second matter on which the Prime Minister misrepresented me was in a reference to M. Etienne Manach, the distinguished French Ambassador to Peking - a man who more than any other Ecropean diplomat is acquainted with affairs in the Far East and has been ever since the Geneva Conference which he attended. The Prime Minister-

Mr McMahon - Could we find out first of all where you were misrepresented as to whether in fact Chou En-lai had suggested to you that there should be a reconvened Geneva-type conference. You have not dealt with that.

Mr WHITLAM - I have said previously to your officials and, I think, in the House and at Press conferences what was said and I do not think I need go over it again.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member is making a personal explanation in his own way and he is not obliged to answer any questions on this matter.

Mr WHITLAM - Speaking about M. Manac'h, the Prime Minister asserts that I have in some way embarrassed M. Manac'h or his Government. The Australian Government made representations to the French Government about the part which M- Manac'h was reported to have played, and which I believe he did play, in securing an invitation by the Chinese Government to the Australian Labor Party to send a delegation. These representations were made before I returned to Australia and based on a report which showed that it did not come from me. It is true that our delegation was entertained by M. Manac'h. Also at the dinner which he gave was his councillor, a previous French Charge d' Affaires ad interim in Canberra and nobody gainsays what M. Manac'h said to us and what we have reported. But there are 2 things I want to say about this. The allegation that I have embarrassed M. Manac'h can be readily disposed of if, for instance, you, Sir - and I would be very happy for you to see it - were to look at a letter which M. Manac'h sent to me from France in his own handwriting on 24th August on the French Foreign Ministry letterhead.

These constant allegations are very tempting, but I will resist the temptation to disclose such communications. I have been overborne in this respect once only when my colleague the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) read a letter which the Foreign Secretary of the Philippines wrote to me. The letter I have from M. Manac'h would certainly dispose of any such allegations in his attitude towards me or my fellow delegates. But furthermore honourable members would know that a person in my position should be acquainted with the ambassadors here, and they know that I am and it would be completely false to suggest that the French Government or the French Ambassador here is in any way incommoded by anything that I have said or that M. Manac'h has done.

The other matter-

Government supporters - Oh!

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member is entitled to show where he has been misrepresented, and whilst he has taken some length of time, it has been a long and involved explanation and I think that the House should hear it.

Mr WHITLAM - The Minister for Immigration who in this chamber represents the Minister for Health made reference to the Australian Labor Party's health scheme and although I had not asked the question made references to me in his reply. 1 want to make it plain that my Party supports the fee for service payments to doctors. What my Party has said is that there would be very great savings for patients and for taxpayers if two things were done. Firstly, there would be great savings for patients and taxpayers if, instead of a multiplicity of private Government sponsored funds, there was one Government fund. Secondly, there would be great savings for patients and for taxpayers if, instead of doctors and patients having to make claims in respect of every individual service, the doctor could make a claim for all the services which he had rendered in one month.

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