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Thursday, 23 March 1972
Page: 849

Senator CARRICK (NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question, which is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, relates to the five-power defence arrangements which involve Britain, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. Has the Minister seen reports that the Singapore Government is particularly concerned about the attacks made by Austalian Labor Party spokesmen on the five-power pact and the indication by the Labor Party that if elected to office it would withdraw from the pact? Does the Minister agree that the five-power pact is of great significance to the peace and stability of South East Asia and to the goodwill of Australia in that vital region?

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON Yes, I did see a Press report this morning, which I read with considerable interest. I think it was a contribution by Denis Warner from Singapore. In it reference was made to the concern expressed about the challenge to the five-power pact. The Australian Labor Party's attitude was referred to also. Yes, I do agree that the five-power pact is of great significance to peace and stability in South East Asia. I shall give the background and in doing so. I shall not offend, I am sure, standing order 100. The five-power arrangements are a practical demonstration of the Government's willingness to contribute to regional security and confidence.

The United States has made it quite clear, following the Nixon visit to the People's Republic of China, that it has no intention of abandoning its military arrangements in South East Asia and the Pacific. The Prime Minister of Malaysia has stated publicly that the five-power defence arrangements and other arrangements are not inconsistent with Malaysia's general policy of non-alignment or with her objective of the neutralisation of South East Asia. The Commonwealth Government feels that the presence of Australian forces in Malaysia and Singapore is valued and there would be concern - indeed, grave concern - in Malaysia and Singapore if it were thought that these forces were to be withdrawn prematurely. Nothing that the Government has heard has changed its evaluation of the five-power arrangement or has led it to believe that others have changed their evaluation of the arrangement.

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