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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 2624

Mr MORRISON (St George) (Minister for External Territories) - I propose to make some observations on some of the speeches delivered during the course of the Estimates debate. Perhaps I could start with the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton). In his short statement he rather emphasised the obvious. I think that all political parties in the Parliament would accept the proposition that there should be justice in the Middle East, that there should be a settlement of the Palestinian problem and that Israel has the right to exist. This has been a policy of the Labor Party since the time of Dr Evatt who played an important role in the establishment of the state of Israel.

Nobody will deny the proposition that there should be justice in the Middle East, that the Palestinian problem should be resolved and that Israel has the right to exist. This afternoon the right honourable member for Higgins seemed to indicate that these were brand new thoughts that he had conjured up in perhaps the internecine warfare between himself and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden). But he raised the possibility of joint enforcement by the United States of America and the Soviet Union in respect of difficulties in the Middle East. There is no doubt that the United States and the Soviet Union have been acting as policemen in the Middle East. The only difficulty is that they have been on different beats. I would have thought that over the last few days there was some earnest of intention on the part of the Soviet Union and the United States to act in a joint manner to resolve the difficulties in the Middle East. I believe that the proposition that they should undertake joint enforcement in respect of violations of the situation in the Middle East could well be a point of discussion between the 2 powers at the present moment. I am delighted that the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) enjoyed his visit overseas; but one wonders, if he can come back only weaving a lightweight web of words without any substance, whether the amount of money that the Parliament pays for these exercises is worthwhile. Is the honourable member for Chisholm suggesting that we unrecognise the People's Republic of China?

Mr Staley - No, not for a moment.

Mr MORRISON - Is he suggesting then that we should put troops back into Vietnam?

Mr Staley - No one suggested that.

Mr MORRISON - This is the proposition. He is saying that he does not agree with the

Government's policy; but on each point we bring up, on each of the major things which we have done and which he has sought to criticise, he is not prepared-

Mr Staley - I did not seek to criticise.

Mr MORRISON - What did the honourable member say? I had the greatest of difficulty trying to understand what he was saying. It is one of the roles of the Minister at the table-

Mr Staley - It is the way you do things and what you sacrifice in doing them - the interests of other nations and the interests of this nation.

Mr MORRISON - There we are again. We have these broad, generalised terms. Now let us get down to some specifics. What precisely has the Australian Government done in foreign affairs since taking office, to which the honourable member objects?

Mr Staley - I object in particular to the way in which you did the whole China thing.

Mr MORRISON - Come, come! We have arrived at the question whether the Liberal Party, if it ever came back to power, would not continue to recognise China.

Mr Staley - No one has suggested that.

Mr MORRISON - All right. Let us leave the proposition there. The great difficulty with Opposition members when they were in government was that they had become so accustomed to being Uncle Sam's nephew or Mother England's son that they forgot what it was like to be a grown up Australia. This is the great difficulty honourable members opposite faced throughout the whole period for which they were in government. What other people said had a great influence on what the then Australian Government should have been able to think out for itself. I do not wonder that Opposition members are so mesmerised by Australian foreign policy because they never knew what an Australian foreign policy was. This Government has brought to foreign policy an Australian content.

Mr Hamer - A larrikin content.

Mr McLeay - Irresponsibility.

Mr MORRISON - These general phrases keep coming up. I have not heard one member of the Opposition make a statement on what we have done and what actions we have taken in foreign policy which, if they were in government, they would not continue. Let us get to the propositions. Let us stop the generalities.

Opposition members will continue to recognise China. They will not put troops back into Vietnam. They will not put troops back into Malaysia and Singapore. These are the propositions. Until honourable members opposite are prepared to stand up and specify each item that they are prepared to do when they come into government, if they ever come into government, their generalities fall completely to the ground. Mr Deputy Chairman, I think that this concludes the debate on the estimates for the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of External Territories. I must say that I have been disappointed by the standard of comment by members of the Opposition. Very few points that were raised demanded or required any comment from the Government.

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