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Tuesday, 27 November 1973
Page: 3874

Mr RUDDOCK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the Prime Minister a question. Has the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the President of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Robert Hawke, been an embarrassment to this country in presuming to undertake discussions between Israel and the Soviet Union as a sort of roving, self-appointed diplomat? Has not this embarrassment been greater because of the Government's even-handed policy in this dispute? Can the Prime Minister assure this House that Mr Hawke has not compromised Australia's diplomacy by his known sympathies?

Mr WHITLAM (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Prime Minister) - Mr Hawkehas recently and in earlier years visited both Israel and the Soviet Union and had conversations with both the Prime Minister of Israel, Mrs Golda Meir, and with the trade union leader in the Soviet Union, Mr Shelepin. I believe that any contacts which can be established between Israel and the Soviet Union are valuable. I would hope that Israel and the Soviet Union can restore diplomatic relations as Egypt and the United States have re-established diplomatic relations. In matters concerning the hostilities in the Middle East, Mr Hawke has been at pains to emphasise that he is expressing personal views. It might help if I were to quote the resolution on this question passed at the Australian Labor Party's Federal Conference at Surfer's Paradise last July. It states:

The situation in the Middle East remains the greatest threat to the peace of the. world. There can be no peace until the Arab States respect and recognise Israel's sovereignty and right to exist. Equally, there can be no peace until Israeli forces have been withdrawn from occupied territories to secure and recognised boundaries and a just settlement of the refugee problem is achieved.

I myself moved the resolution. It was carried overwhelmingly. The wording is a summary of the United Nations Security Council resolution No. 242 which was passed unanimously in 1967. That resolution has commanded the support of the Gorton Government, the McMahon Government and the present Government. On these matters Australian governments traditionally have been bipartisan in their approach. I will do all I can to see that that bipartisan approach to this area is maintained. It is only if we all try to have an end to hostilites that any of the other things can be achieved; that is, the sovereignty of Israel, the rectification of the borders and the rights of the Palestinians.

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