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Thursday, 1 March 1973
Page: 125

Mr GORTON (Higgins) - Mr- Speaker,I wish to make a personal explanation.

Mr SPEAKER -Does the right honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr GORTON - Yes. The Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison) made at least 2 false statements concerning me. The first statement to which I draw attention was that, as Prime Minister, I initiated a policy - which he apparently did not like- by making a statement at the Five Power Conference held in Canberra at which I referred to Malaya as distinct from other parts of Malaysia. That statement is untrue. The policy to which he referred was initiated and stated to this House in February 1969 iti the first speech made by me on behalf of the then Government on what it would do 'iti Singapore and Malaysia. It was in that speech that the policy to which Mr Morrison refers was initiated. It was stated clearly that in regard to east Malaysia we would regard ourselves as being more useful giving diplomatic rather than military help. That was a firm and final statement. It was adhered to. We never vacillated from it.

Mr Whitlam - You used the term 'Malaya'.

Mr GORTON - The Minister for External Territories said that this distinction started at the Five Power Conference here. In fact, the policy differentiating between the peninsular of Malaya and east Malaysia began in February 1969. It has been firmly adhered to ever since. There has been no vacillation. That is the first point on which I claim to have been misrepresented.

The second one is the report, which was not entirely inaccurate but significantly inaccurate, of a conversation held between me and the Tunku of Malaysia which quoted me as saying: 'If you' - the Tunku - "have any border clashes you will have to take care of them yourselves.' This is untrue. In accordance with the policy initially stated and adhered to all the time, I said: 'If you have border clashes in Sabah or Sarawak you will have to deal with them yourselves.' It was nothing at all to do with the peninsular of Malaya, which was the area where we first stated we would regard ourselves as being militarily committed. I think that those 2 statements need to be corrected, firstly because they are untrue and slanted and, secondly, because by correcting them I can show that, unlike the present Government, we never varied or vacillated from the firm and right stand we took initially.

Mr MORRISON(St George - Minister for Science and Minister for External Territories) - Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.

Mr SPEAKER -Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr MORRISON - Yes, I claim to have been misrepresented. The source of my information on the statement by the former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), was a report of a speech given to the American Chamber of Commerce in Brisbane in March 1972. 1 would be very happy to table a copy of that report. m FORBES (Barker) (12.13)- 1 do not propose to say much about the speech of the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison). The quality of his contribution was represented by his extraordinary statement that the only reason why the previous Government stationed the squadrons at Butterworth was that there was no place for them in Australia. Of course, this was contradicted by his own Deputy Leader, the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard), who talked at some length of the value that those squadrons have in the training role and in other ways m Malaysia. The only other thing I want to say about the honourable member for St George is that ail of us who in recent years have travelled around South East Asia know something of his reputation in South East Asia. I believe that some of this knowledge has come back to the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) who showed great wisdom, when the honourable member was foisted on him by the Caucus, in appointing the honourable member to a portfolio in the Government which had nothing to do with Australia's relations with South East Asia.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Barker should refer to the honourable member for St George as the Minister for External Territories.

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