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Tuesday, 20 November 1973
Page: 3504

Mr MORRISON (St George) (Minister for Science and Minister for External Territories) - It seems to me that inaccuracy has almost become a virtue with the Opposition. The Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party, the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair), has just pointed out that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has not paid visits to this part of the world about which he spoke and in fact all the visits of the Prime Minister have been to countries outside this region. I think we ought to put on record that the first visit that the Prime Minister paid overseas was to New Zealand. The second visit the Prime Minister paid overseas was to Papua New Guinea and he then went on to Indonesia. The reason the Prime Minister went as far afield as Ottawa is very simple. It happened to be the venue of the meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers.

Members of the Opposition have been talking about style. Again they seem to have a very short and convenient memory. I think all of us can recall the style of a former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton). We can remember the style of another former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon). I have mentioned before but I think I had better mention again the style of Mr Gorton when he was conducting Australia's foreign relations. I refer to a report in the Australian Press of a discussion that he had with the then Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman. When asked for an observation on what Australia's involvement would be under the Five Power Arrangement if there were any border dispute the comment of the right honourable member for Higgins was:

The Tunku said he wasn't sure what I meant when I said Australia wouldn't help.

Now for the style. The report states:

Well', I told the Tunku, 'if you get into any sort of border fight you had better cope by yourselves because Australia bloody well won't be there.'

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Who said this?

Mr MORRISON - Mr Gorton. That is the grand style of Mr Gorton. That is the type of style under which the foreign policy of Australia was run before this Government came to power. The right honourable member for Lowe had discussions in Indonesia about the Five Power Arrangement. The Arrangement was dealt a mortal blow under the leadership of the former Government when the right honourable member for Lowe said that the Five Power Arrangement is not very important; that it is in fact only a forum for consultation. That was in Indonesia. Then he went across to Singapore, a member country of the Arrangement, and spent the rest of that trip trying to get out from under the equivocation and the lack of style and lack of awareness of what foreign policy was all about.

The honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) made one accurate statement. He said that Australian foreign policy should serve Australia's interests. The concern that the Opposition had for foreign policy when it was in government was not in terms of the interests to Australia, nor was it in terms of the interests of the Australian people. It had only one interest in foreign policy and that was to use it as a tool to organise its re-election. To do this members of the Opposition lied and lied and lied to the Australian people. It became so obvious-

Mr Sinclair - Give us one example.

Mr MORRISON - Very well. The honourable gentleman asks for one example.

Mr Sinclair - I would be delighted to hear it.

Mr MORRISON - I was rather hoping you would be. I have with me a publication entitled 'Viet Nam Questions and Answers' which was issued under the authority of the Minister for External Affairs, the right honourable Paul Hasluck, M.P. at that time in May 1966. That publication says:

.   . while Australia values the closeness and strength of its friendship and alliance with the United

States, our forces are in Viet 'Nam to help the Government of the South, at its request . . .

I think we can all recall the Labor Party, which was in those days the Opposition, demanding time and time again that that request be tabled. Late one evening in 1972, 6i years later, the government of the day, now the Opposition, tabled the letters. These letters nail the lie on which the honourable member asked me to elaborate and I shall do so. There was an exchange of letters between the Australian Ambassador in Vietnam, Mr H. D. Anderson, and the South Vietnamese. A letter written to the then Prime Minister of the Republic of Vietnam, dated 29 April, reads:

I have the honour, with reference to our conversation yesterday, to confirm the Australian Government's offer to send to Viet Nam . . .

The response - these letters require an acknowledgement in order to make an agreement - which came from Mr Ky who was then the Prime Minister of the Republic of Vietnam, says:

I have the honour to refer to your letter of today's date confirming the Australian Government's offer to send to Viet Nam an infantry battalion of 800 men, with some 100 personnel in logistic support, to serve with United States forces in assisting in the defence of the Republic of Vietnam.

I wish to confirm my government's acceptance of this offer . . .

All the time that this Opposition was in Government it claimed that our participation in the Vietnam conflict with hundreds of Australians killed and hundreds more wounded, was because of a request from the Vietnamese Government.

Mr Sinclair - That is correct. It was a verbal request.

Mr MORRISON - It was not a request. It was not an invitation. It was an acceptance of an offer - an offer that was engineered by the United States Government. We are talking of the question of style and of how we as Australians relate to our foreign policy. When the present Opposition was in government it not only sold a part of the farm every year but it also sold out in a most blatant way Australia's sovereignty. I go back to the arguments over the North West Cape and the agreement that was entered into. It was one of the most shoddy agreements that Australia has ever been a party to because under that agreement Australia's sovereignty was sold; there was a complete sell-out of Australia's sovereignty. I want to remind honourable members opposite, because they do have a conveniently short memory, that under the North West Cape Agreement Article III provides for an exchange of letters on the basis of consultation on the use of the base. But when those letters were published at the insistence of the United States Ambassador we found in them provision to prevent the Government of Australia from restricting at any time the United States Government's use of the station for defence communication, including Polaris submarines. The exchange of letters said that it was not intended to give Australia control over or access to messages from the station. On Australian soil, in an agreement entered into by an Australian Government the present Opposition when in government sold out Australia's sovereignty. It was always concerned not about foreign policy for foreign policy's sake; nor for foreign policy in the terms of the matter of public importance proposed for discussion by the honourable member for Kooyong which states that 'Australian foreign policy should serve Australia's interests', but it was interested only in how it could utilise Australia's foreign policy to have the Liberal-Country Party Government re-elected.

We had the sight of an Australian Foreign Minister - that honourable member is no longer a member of this House - going to the United States of America and pleading in public fora for the United States to intervene in the domestic affairs of Australia. In a speech which he made on 5 October 1972 to the AmericanAustralian Association, talking to an American audience, he said:

Whether you yourselves really wish actively to contribute to this shift of political power, which having regard to the present policy statements of the Opposition would lead inevitably to the imposition of conditions of Australian control of American bases-

Back to the American bases again. In fact, that former Foreign Minister pleaded with and asked the American public - he made this point in official discussions with the American Administration - to intervene in Australia's domestic affairs. This was a monstrous appeal. There has been no precedent for it in any other country or at any other time. That is what the present Opposition when in Government thought of foreign policy. It was an appalling sell out. This Government believes that we do not need to walk or to march to the beat of another drum. We are capable of measuring our own steps and seeking our own direction.

We are doing no more than what President Nixon once said, to this effect:

If domination by an aggressor can destroy the freedom of a nation, too much dependence on a protector can eventually erode its dignity.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order!The Minister's time has expired.

Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:

That the business of the day be called on.

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