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Tuesday, 13 March 1973
Page: 462

Mr SNEDDEN (BRUCE, VICTORIA) - Will the 'Prime Minister so arrange his program as to enable him to visit Thailand for the purpose of facing his accusers who have told him to mind his own bloody business? Given that the honourable gentleman has stated how -.important he regards Australia's reputation .in. the nations of South East Asia, will he explain to the Thais what led him to make the statement which so embarrassed Australians and alienated the Thais? If he , does face his accusers will he upon his return to Australia make a statement in the House .so that it may be debated, in contrast to his failure to do so following his visits to New .Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia?

Mr WHITLAM (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Prime Minister) - The Thai Government has neither orally nor in writing made any representations to the Australian Government about the interview which I gave to 'Newsweek'. I will be making a - statement on foreign affairs during the. present sessional period. How soon I can make it will depend on the progress of the Government's legislative program. I am sorry to disappoint the right honourable gentleman about the Australian Government's relations with the Government of Thailand. What arrangements Thailand and the United States make about their respective armed forces is for them alone to determine. Naturally there is an interest in Australia in the stability of the area. We believe that, as foreign troops are withdrawn from the various countries of the area, stability will be promoted. Australia herself made a contribution in this way when, at the end of July 1968, she took her air forces out of Thailand. I am confident that Thailand will continue the policies which for 100 years have ensured that, alone among the nations of South-East Asia, her identity and independence have remained unbroken.

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