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Tuesday, 15 May 1973
Page: 2055

Mr SINCLAIR (NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask a question of the Prime Minister. How does the Prime Minister reconcile his change of attitude towards the granting of a visa to Mr K. T. Li to attend the Pacific Basin Economic Council meeting in Sydney with his firm reply to me in this House that Mr Li would be admitted in a personal and private capacity in spite of the official position he holds in the Government of Taiwan and of which he was notified in my question? Does his Government accept as normal and, presumably, binding practice the undue and malicious intrusion in the domestic affairs of this country which his acceptance of the representations from the Charge d'Affaires of the People's Republic of China represents? If not, why was he not prepared publicly to state that no visa would be issued to Mr K. T. Li, instead of leaving such a refusal until after he received the Charge's representations?

Mr WHITLAM - The Chinese Charge made perfectly proper representations, and in the light of the situation brought about by the honourable gentleman publicising the real character of the intended visitor the visa, which had not up to that stage been sought, was not granted. The honourable gentleman knows this quite well, as I told him in a letter yesterday which I shall read:

On Thursday, 10th May you addressed to my colleague the Minister for Social Security, who was representing me in the House at that time, and the Minister for Immigiation, questions relating to a proposed visit to Australia by Mr K. T. Li. In my absence at the Premiers Conference, both undertook to seek information and to reply to you as soon as possible. With their agreement I am replying on their behalf.

As you will have seen, my colleague the Special Minister for State has answered questions on this subject in another place. While I have nothing to add to the answers he has given, it may be worth recapitulating the sequence of events which led the Government to refuse Mr Li a visa to enter Australia. At the time of your original question to me on 3rd May, Mr Li had not in fact applied for a visa although it was understood that he bad been invited by PBEC to visit Australia in a private and unofficial capacity. When, as a result of your question, his status as a Minister of the Government of Taiwan was brought to notice, the Department of Foreign Affairs received representations from the Charge d'Affairs of the People's Republic of China. As a result, it became clear that any status Mr Li may have had as a private and unofficial visitor had been publicly and effectively compromised. In the circumstances the only proper course open to the Government was to decline to allow Mr Li to enter Australia.

The honourable gentleman blew the visitor's cover, and therefore the Australian Government had to take the only decent course dictated by relations between our countries.

Mr WENTWORTH (MACKELLAR, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Mr Speaker, under the provisions of standing order 151 I ask for an opportunity to ask a supplementary question.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I call the honourable member for Darling.

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