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Thursday, 8 November 1973
Page: 1648

Senator SIM (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I direct my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the Prime Minister's brief and uninformative statement presented yesterday on his visit to Japan and China. Is it the Prime Minister's intention to make a detailed statement to Parliament on his discussions in Tokyo and Peking and on his meeting with Prince Sihanouk so that Parliament and the people can be fully informed as to the meaning, for example, of such expressions as Australia's new aspiration is symbolised more in our relations with China than with any other country'? Further, is the reported statement by Prince Sihanouk, which was published and released today in Peking, an accurate account of the Prime Minister's discussions with the Prince?

Senator WILLESEE - The improvement in the way in which we are handling statements is that statements were never made previously. This has been an inauguration of this Government. We have presented a statement on any conference that we have attended overseas.

Senator Sim - What is the inauguration?

Senator WILLESEE - The inauguration is the presenting to this Parliament of statements dealing with conferences that we attend overseas. As soon as I get the details finalised next week I will be presenting statements on 4 conferences that I attended. This was never done previously. What happened previously was that now and again we would get a statement on foreign affairs.

Senator Sim - A full statement.

Senator WILLESEE - Senator Simsays that it was a full statement. He is getting very confused about 2 different things. Honourable senators are still presented with the same type of statement by this Government when it is considered appropriate.

Senator Sim - Not a full statement.

Senator WILLESEE -Senator Sim has asked his question and he should listen to the reply. That is why he never improves; he talks all the time and never listens.

Senator Sim - You never answer.

Senator WILLESEE - I am answering very clearly. Senator Sim is getting completely confused about 2 things. Honourable senators were presented with foreign affairs statements by the previous Government and those statements used to be criticised by the then Opposition. Now they are presented with statements by this Goverment and those statements are criticised by the present Opposition. There is nothing new about that. What is new is that we are giving, tabling and making public statements about those conferences which we attend overseas. In my own case, when I did attend a conference I gave a brief report which became a public document. The one favourable thing which Senator Greenwood said about the statement yesterday was that it was completely proper. He looks amazed that he said anything good about it, but he did. If he looks at Hansard he will see that he did. He said that it was completely right.

The PRESIDENT - Order! I suggest that the Minister conclude his remarks. I draw the attention of honourable senators to the fact that they cannot revive a debate by asking a question, as Senator Sim did. I allowed the question because it was marginal. I do not want it debated. I suggest that the Minister conclude his remarks.

Senator WILLESEE - Mr President,I thought that the question was completely out of order but I did not want to take that point. We have given a brief statement on the activities of the Prime Minister in the 2 countries.

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