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Thursday, 3 May 1973
Page: 1644

Mr RIORDAN (PHILLIP, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did the Minister for Defence see the program 'Federal File* in which it was alleged that Australia had told

Thailand that in future no place would be available at the Queenscliff Staff College for the training of Thai officers? If the Minister saw the program, can he deny or confirm the statements made?

Mr BARNARD (BASS, TASMANIA) (Minister for Defence) - I did not see the program referred to by the honourable member but the implications of that statement were drawn to my attention. It is true that Thailand has had an officer training at the Queenscliff Staff College since 1958 and, indeed, there is one officer training at that establishment today. Thailand has not been told that there will not be a position for Thai officers in future. An application from the Thai authorities for a position at the College would be considered together with all other applications received from overseas countries.

Mr Whitlam - The Crown Prince is here.

Mr BARNARD - Yes, the Crown Prince of Thailand is now training at the Royal Military College, Duntroon. But what happened is that earlier this year the Thai authorities wrote to the Department of Defence and asked whether a permanent position could be made for a Thai officer at the Queenscliff College. It was pointed out to the Thai authorities that this proposition could not be accepted but that a decision would be made in due course. They subsequently wrote and asked whether a position could be made available for the 1974 course. I believe that application was made on 1st March. The Department of Defence informed the Thai authorities that the application would be considered, together with all other applications, in August of this year. The question of providing training facilities for overseas countries at the Staff College at Queenscliff must be seen in context with the number of positions available. In point of fact, for the 1973 course 13 applications were received from overseas countries.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - Which countries?

Mr BARNARD - The former Minister should know but I would be happy to find out for him all the countries involved. I cannot readily recall them. However, for his information, some examples are New Zealand, Great Britain, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. As I was pointing out, 13 applications were received in 1973 and only 4 positions were available. The Thai authorities have been informed that their application foi the 1974 course will be considered, together with applications received for positions at the

Staff College lodged by other countries. It ls not true to say that Thai officers have been refused admission to the Queenscliff Staff College.

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