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Wednesday, 10 November 1971
Page: 3224

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Acting Prime Minister. I refer to the proposal for the training of Cambodian forces in South Vietnam and the statement by the Prime Minister that he has not seen the Cabinet papers on this matter. I ask: Why did the Prime Minister announce that he favoured the proposal before Cabinet had a chance to consider it and on what evidence did he rely? Knowing of the anxiety of farmers in the United States of America to enter the China trade and of the hostility of the Chinese to this Australian proposal, what consideration was given by Cabinet to the interests of the Australian exporters? In order that the nation can understand the position, when will the Acting Prime Minister make a statement to this House and when will he table the famous letter of the Minister for Defence of 26th October together with the 2 cables that he, as Acting Prime Minister, sent to the Prime Minister at Blair House?

Mr ANTHONY - The honourable member has asked an interesting question, but I do not know whether it has much substance. To imagine that government does not continue to operate because the Prime Minister is out of the country shows a complete lack of understanding of how government works. The Cabinet is continuously discussing matters and making decisions on them. It made a decision as far as the training of Cambodian troops is concerned and it related that decision to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister was then in a position to make an anouncement if he felt it fitting to do so. As far as revealing any other papers or making an announcement in relation to this matter is concerned, that will be le ft in the hands of the Prime Minister when he returns from overseas.

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