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Wednesday, 16 May 1973
Page: 2164

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - I direct a question to the Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to reports about the Minister for Overseas Trade taking certain initiatives which are causing concern within the Department of Foreign Affairs. The suggestion is that the Minister for Overseas Trade is directing foreign policy a little too fast along certain courses. I also refer to the fact that this year we have not had a foreign affairs debate in the Australian Parliament. With the Government fast approaching 200 days in office, I was wondering whether the Prime Minister would assure the House that before we rise for the winter recess he will provide an opportunity for himself to make a statement and for a full debate to take place in the House on that subject?

Mr WHITLAM (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Prime Minister) - One would not expect me to comment on every newspaper speculation. Ministers make trips overseas on itineraries and for purposes which they put to me. It is then up to me to approve the itinerary for the purposes which the Minister has suggested. There is no itinerary or purpose which the Minister for Overseas Trade has put to me which would justify the particular newspaper article upon which the honourable gentleman has based his question. I still hope to make a foreign affairs statement to the Parliament. The time of the Parliament is being taken up by a great number of things which will make it difficult to have a debate on that statement.

Mr Lynch - The Prime Minister is effectively pre-empting that opportunity.

Mr WHITLAM - This is the sort of relevant contribution that we have all come to expect from the honourable gentleman. I want to make such a statement, but I cannot guarantee that I will make it if my making it will displace necessary legislation. I hope there will be a debate on the statement if I make it.

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