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Wednesday, 7 November 1973
Page: 1589

Senator McMANUS (Victoria) (Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party) - I do not propose to detain the Senate for long. This question of Australia's policy in regard to the East should be the subject of a full-scale debate. But in view of what we are to deal with later in the day I propose to confine myself to a few remarks upon one or two aspects of the overseas visit of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). The first matter I want to refer to concerns the statements which have been made in the Press and on the radio, and not denied, that Mr Whitlam had made a commitment to work for the cause of Peking or Communist China in South-East Asia with a view to inducing countries in that area to recognise Peking.

I asked a question relative to that matter in the Senate yesterday. I realise that the newly appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Willesee, had had a busy morning. He had just been appointed. Therefore, he might not have been so well prepared as he would be on other occasions to deal with this question. But I have to say that the answer which I received from the Minister was, in my view, vague and unsatisfactory. He made a suggestion, which I have not seen confirmed by any other source, that all the Prime Minister offered was that if one of these

South Eastern Asian countries asked him what he thought about things in China, he would make favourable comment on any proposal that they should recognise Peking or Communist China. In my view, this is not a matter on which the Australian Prime Minister should constitute himself as an agent for the foreign policy of another country. In recent years- particularly, I would say, in recent months- we appear to have adopted the role not of an adviser but of a lecturer to other countries on what their foreign policies ought to be. I believe that what we should do is make it clear what our foreign policy is and to comment as strongly as we like on world affairs, but I repeat that it is not our job to be the agent for the foreign policies of other countries.

We can recall that not so long ago the Prime Minister made a statement that the people of Thailand should get rid of the American troops inside their country. We recall that the reaction in a leading Thailand statement was that Australia should mind its own bloody business. I think that we asked for that. So far as the Prime Minister is concerned, let us make a statement of what is our foreign policy, but let us not go around telling other people what their foreign policy ought to be. We then had a statement made in the Press, and not denied, that the Prime Minister, contrary to the advice of his foreign office advisers, determined that he would visit Prince Sihanouk. Now the Prince is in the position of being located in a foreign country and is associated with guerrilla actions against the Government of his own country, a Government which we recognise as the Government of his country. We have heard highly virtuous claims over the past 2 years in regard to Yugoslavia. We have been told that it would be unthinkable that we should in any way connive or be associated with any attempt to overthrow the Government of Yugoslavia. At the very time that our Government is taking virtue unto itself, when it is endeavouring to do all it can to prevent any moves in this country to overturn the Government which we recognise in Yugoslavia, the Prime Minister of Australia gives public countenance to one who is doing the very kind of thing for which we attacked the Croats.

I was interested when I first read that our Prime Minister had gone to see the Prince concerned because it was said in the Press that it was a secret and a private interview, lt was so secret and so private that the Australian Press today pictures the two of them together, the Prince with a beaming smile on his face at this evidence of Australian governmental approbation.

Senator TURNBULL (TASMANIA) - Who said it was secret?

Senator McMANUS - It was announced.

Senator TURNBULL (TASMANIA) - By whom? By the Press?

Senator McMANUS - By the people who accompanied our Prime Minister.

Senator TURNBULL (TASMANIA) - Then it is the people you attack.

Senator McMANUS - I attack the Prime Minister.


Senator McMANUS - Because we have recognised the Government of that country the same as we recognise Tito. We attack any guerrillas who attempt to enter Yugoslavia for the purpose of attacking that Government. But then our Prime Minister turns around and gives the accolade of Australian approval to one who is engaged with communist forces in subversive activities against his own country.

Senator Wheeldon - But not from Australia.

Senator McMANUS - Do not quibble. The whole position is this: In what we have done we have aligned Australia with China- make no error about that. The other day we aligned ourselves with China when, although China had exploded and indicated that it would continue to explode atomic bombs, we announced that we had made a treaty with China under which China, in our eyes, would be the most favoured nation. Then the Prime Minister announced in his speech that Communist China was the one country- he emphasised the point, the one countrywith which Australia would be in tune from now on. I deny that statement. Communist China is not the one country with which our future aspirations are in tune. I ask all the people who complained about the statement 'all the way with LBJ': Are they going to make similar complaints about Mr Whitlam 's proposition 'here and now with Mao and Chou'? What is the opinion of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in regard to this alignment? Does that make for good relations? What will be the opinion of the United States of America when it hears that Communist China is the one country above all with which we aspire to march along in the world of the future? What will be the opinion of Lee Kuan Yew, the socialist whom the Australian Labor Party has invited more than once to this country? What will be his opinion of the action which Australia has taken in this regard?

Let nobody make any error as to what this means. In the eyes of Eastern Asia Australia is now a Communist Chinese satellite. It has been said by a leading Asian diplomat that Australia now is the running dog of Chairman Mao. What have we done to give any other impression? We have indicated that we are prepared to put pressure on South East Asian nations to recognise Communist China. Mr Whitlam said on his return years ago from a trip to Asia that in his opinion it was inevitable that the world should be parcelled out in blocs dominated by the great nations. He said that South East Asia inevitably must be the bloc dominated by China. His policies since that time have tended in that direction. Is the average Australian convinced that it is to the advantage of our country that we should promote a state of affairs whereby South East Asia becomes a bloc under Communist Chinese domination? Everybody knows what is occurring in those countries. There are dangerous subversive movements financed and assisted from China. I was told not so long ago by a prominent South East Asian diplomat that one of the principal persons in the Government of his country visited China and saw Chairman Mao. The subject of recognition was raised and this man said to Chairman Mao that it would help for better relations if China did not interfere in his country. He referred to a communist guerrilla organisation and Chairman Mao said that his country did not interfere in that country. The South East Asian diplomat was happily surprised. In order to find out, the South East Asian diplomat said: 'But what about the communist liberation movement that you are helping?' Chairman Mao said that helping a communist liberation movement was not interference.

Australia is going to tell the South East Asian countries that they should recognise Communist China. If they do there will be established in each country a Chinese embassy, considerably staffed, containing a small number of diplomats and a large number of agitators. We have been told that here in Australia the Chinese have purchased a motel with 105 rooms. Imagine what the staff is going to be like. Are they all going to be diplomats? We know that they are not, any more than the people attached to the Russian Embassy are all diplomats. There will be a number of people there whose job will be to assist Ted Hill and the Australian Community Party Marxist-Leninist to advance their already considerable influence in the Australian trade union movement. They will assist him with influence and with money.

Senator Milliner - That is the same remark as you made yesterday.

Senator McMANUS - Senator Millinerhas been through the union mill. He might pretend to laugh about communist influence but he knows that it is there, and he knows that the communists will back Ted Hill with money and influence. I think that with their influence Hill will become the controller of that element in the trade union movement in the very near future. Countries in South East Asia do not want communists for the same reason as a lot of African countries got rid of the Chinese. They found out that their embassies were being used for purposes for which they were not intended. They found out that a large proportion of the so-called diplomatic staff consisted of people who were there as communist agitators and the countries had to kick them out. Indonesia was almost the subject of communist takeover. The Communist Party still exists underground and is a powerful party in that country. How can a country like Indonesia regard with equanimity the importation into it of a so-called embassy when a large part of those employed in the embassy are there for one purpose- to assist the Communist organisation inside Indonesia? What about Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore? Does the Government think that he is going to welcome this kind of thing? Does it think that other countries are going to welcome this kind of thing? A lot of people in Australia say that the Chinese will bring a big mob here and that we will just have to learn to live with it. But why wish this on countries where things have reached the stage today that there is active violence, communist sabotage and communist guerrilla organisations in full cry? Australia is suggesting to them that they ought to link up so that they can import into their countries a so-called diplomatic mission, 70 per cent of whose employees will be there for purposes that are not diplomatic.

I conclude by saying that I regret the alignment of Australia with the advance of communist Chinese influence throughout South East Asia. I think we owe something more to nations in that area than inflicting or attempting to inflict this upon them. I hope that we will have a full scale debate on this issue before long. I believe that there has been an attempt of late to keep the subject of foreign affairs out of the Senate. A number of things have disturbed me. Over the years we have had the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence which has devoted itself to hearing and collecting information about what is happening in a number of countries where foreign affairs are important. The Joint Committee did not meet for 7 months under the then new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Whitlam, and when it did meet, instead of proceeding to its normal and accustomed duty of gathering information in regard to foreign affairs, it received a reference from the Minister to examine the question of the Omega installations. Admittedly it was an important question, but it was not one for the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence.

We all know why we received the reference. The Government was in trouble in getting its own Caucus to approve of Omega, and some genius had the brilliant idea that the Goverment would send the question to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. Half the members of that Committee represented the Opposition side of the Parliament and I was an extra, and the Government was sure that four or five of those members would vote for Omega. So it was a way of using the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence to get through something which the Government was not able to get through its own Caucus. We spent weeks considering the question.

Senator Milliner - Ha, ha.

Senator McMANUS -Who knows it better than Senator Milliner? He knows how these things are done. He has been round the course. He knows why the question was referred to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. Then in case the Committee should ever get on to the proper job of finding out what is happening in foreign affairs from Australian diplomats and visitors, we have received another reference. In order to keep us from hearing the views of anybody else, the Government has asked us to inquire into the question of dual nationality. Both of these questions- Omega and dual nationality- are jobs for small expert committees. I am pleased to say that at its last meeting the Chairman of the Committee was able to assure us that we would be hearing from visitors and diplomats and that we would be proceeding to what I regard- others may have a different opinion- as the No. 1 responsibility of our Committee. I look forward to our Committee being conducted in the way that I have wanted it to be conducted and hope that it will be conducted in the future.

I conclude by saying that I hope that foreign affairs issues will not be sidetracked. They are most important. I believe that they are the most important issues that we can discuss in this Parliament. I am glad that I have had even a short opportunity to say something on them.

Senator WILLESEE(Western AustraliaSpecial Minister of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs)- Mr Acting Deputy President, I claim to have been misrepresented.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson)- I will call Senator Turnbull to speak, but Senator Willesee wishes to make a personal explanation.

Senator WILLESEE -When I was in my room I turned on the amplifier system to listen to Senator McManus. I was not taking his speech very seriously, but he made one serious allegation. I do not think that he meant some of the things that he said this afternoon; I think that was fairly obvious. What he said was that yesterday he asked me a question regarding a statement made by Mr Whitlam and he said that my reply was vague. He said that I said that the Prime Minister was urging other countries to be friendly with and to recognise the People's Republic of China. Towards the end of his speech Senator McManus repeated that, without attributing it to me, when he said that we were going around urging countries to link up so that they could import embassies into their countries, and he went on to criticise this idea. I think that I need do no more than to read from Hansard the relevant part of the answer to the question yesterday. In reply to Senator McManus I said:

The answer to the second part of the honourable senator's question as to whether Mr Whitlam was going to explain Chinese policy to the rest of South East Asia is that Mr Whitlam was very clear that he was not going to be an advocate or an apologist for the People's Republic of China but that if anybody was to discuss it with him he would make very clear what Australia's attitude was towards recognition and how we are getting on with the People 's Republic of China.

Senator McManusinterjected and said: 'In other words, he is going to do it '? I replied:

There is no question of 'in other words'; those were the words.

I hardly see how Senator McManus can claim that that is vague or that I said the very opposite of what I did say. Mr Whitlam very clearly said this. Somehow or other Senator McManus links that up by saying exactly the opposite. I suggest that very obviously it was a complete misrepresentation of what was said, and I suggest that the rest of his speech ought to be treated in the same manner.

Senator McMANUS(Victoria- Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party)- Mr Acting Deputy President, have I a right to comment?

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Only if you claim that you have been misrepresented.

Senator McMANUS -I claim that I have been misrepresented. I point out that the answer which I received from Senator Willesee was vague, and I suggest that he misrepresents me when he attempts to suggest that it was not vague. The other matter is that Senator Willesee admitted that the Prime Minister of Australia ( Mr Whitlam) was going to discuss these matters -and he put in the provision 'if they asked him'. I merely say this: Mr Whitlam will see that they ask him.

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