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Tuesday, 2 November 1971
Page: 2806

Mr WHITLAM (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the Acting Prime Minister a question. Is it a fact that the request for additional assistance for training Cambodian and Laotian troops in Vietnam has been under consideration since August or was received since or in August? Is it a fact that the Prime Minister said at a Press conference last Wednesday that he had no knowledge of such a request? Is it a fact that the Prime Minister learnt of such a request on his arrival last week in the United States of America? Finally, will the right honourable gentleman answer the specific question by my Deputy: From whom did the request come?

Mr ANTHONY - As I am led to believe, the situation is that there has been a request to the Minister for Defence for some time that Australia participate in the training of Cambodian personnel in Vietnam.

Mr Morrison - From whom?

Mr ANTHONY - There has been a request from the Americans, but also there have been discussions involving the New Zealanders. This matter has been before the Minister for Defence and he wrote to the Prime Minister but, unfortunately, the Prime Minister had not seen this correspondence before he left for America. The correspondence drawing this matter to the Prime Minister's attention was, I am led to believe, sent only a day or two before he left Australia, so it is understandable that he may not have seen it and when he was asked a question in New York he said he had not seen it. That is the fact of the situation. But it is true that here have been discussions about the training of Cambodian troops. I do not know what the position is as regards official communiques but I will certainly look at the matter to see whether anything can be tabled or presented to the Leader of the Opposition.

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