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Tuesday, 13 November 1973
Page: 1707

Senator SIM (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I direct my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the continual reports of the violation of the cease fire agreement and the build up of troops and supplies, including new and modern weapons, and the construction of air fields by North Vietnam in South Vietnam. As the Government has now established diplomatic relations with North Vietnam, has it taken any action to protest to North Vietnam over these violations and made it clear that any new offensive will invite strong Australian reaction? Will the Government leave no doubt in the mind of the Government of North Vietnam that further breaches of the cease fire agreement will affect relations between North Vietnam and Australia, including further economic aid?

Senator WILLESEE - Australia has never used the withholding of aid as a threat to any country. This Government does not intend to start doing that. I have said several times here that we would generously support the post-war reconstruction of the 4 Indo-Chinese states and that we would do it without regard to the ideological complexion of the governments. The honourable senator asks whether, if the continuing build-up or the activities which he suggests are carried would this invite a strong Australian reaction. I do not know what he means by that. Does he mean that he would want us to send troops back into Vietnam or would he want us to make some statements? The situation in Vietnam is that there are continuing accusations and counter accusations by both sides. The Australian Government, together with many other governments, believes that we can add nothing to what we hope will be a permanent peace settlement in Indo-China by interfering at this stage. The Vietnamese have signed certain agreements. They are being left alone to work out those agreements.

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