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Thursday, 29 March 1973
Page: 882

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will take no notice of interjections.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for your protection. The Prime Minister went into this conference and said to the delegates: 1 cannot tell you about the American bases'. I am asking whether the committee we are establishing will be allowed to examine the terms of recognition of Mainland China. Will the committee be allowed to examine closely what goes on in these bases? Why did the Prime Minister suddenly change course?

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It depends who is on the Committee, I suppose.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Mr Speaker,would you put him down. Finally, and I promise to make this brief, I would dearly like the opportunity to bring before this committee on foreign affairs and defence the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Sir Keith Waller, so that, as its No. 1 project, the committee can examine whether it is true that the question I directed to the Prime Minister this morning has foundation. Honourable members will recall that I alluded to a newspaper report which stated that the United States State Department had proposed to the American President, Dr Kissinger and the White House on 2 occasions that the Australian Prime Minister be invited to that country for a visit. It was stated in a newspaper article that the White House and those persons I mentioned had said no, they were not very interested in Australia at this time. Furthermore, the Harris public opinion poll showed that when American people were asked whether they would come to Australia's aid if it were attacked the proportion who said yes had plummeted to 39 per cent. This is all tied up with the one thing.

We as members of the Australian Parliament thousands of miles away can only speculate as to the truth or otherwise of this report. The Prime Minister has discounted it as a fabrication. I ask him to inform the House whether he intends that this committee should have access to a person such as Sir Keith Waller so that we can get to the very foundation of this question which, I can assure him, is causing grave concern to honourable member's on this side of the House. In the past we, a small nation isolated in the South Pacific, treasured our ties with the United States and we would hate to be convinced that what the new Government has done in its first 100 days has completely torn away the cord and that we are now alone in this part of the world. I am quite confident that I speak for all honourable members on this side of the House when I express that view and I would appreciate the Prime Minister's clarification.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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