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Tuesday, 11 December 1973
Page: 2622

Senator MAUNSELL (QUEENSLAND) -Has the Minister for Foreign Affairs attempted to confirm whether the Minister for Overseas Trade, Dr J. F. Cairns, said in Hanoi- I quote from a Press report- that in the past Australians were involved in making war upon your country and your people5? Has he also checked whether Dr Cairns expressed regret -again I quote- 'at the Australian association with the United States war of destruction upon your country'? If these statements were made, is this another occasion on which Dr J. F. Cairns has taken over the foreign policy of the Government and what does the Minister propose to do about it?

Senator WILLESEE -I have not yet checked whether that is an accurate report of what happened. It is not, of course, an attempt and there never has been an attempt by Dr J. F. Cairns to take over the foreign policy of the Government. The fact of the matter is that he was, as I understand it, at a dinner in Hanoi with some people whom he had invited to Australia some time ago. I think Dr Tien is the name of one of them. It was fairly natural that they would return hospitality to him. What he said in that regard is his personal opinion. He has had a very strong opinion on the matter.

Opposition senators- Oh!

Senator WILLESEE -I do not know what the ignorant guffaws are about. The fact of the matter is that his attitude on the Vietnam war is very well known. It is strongly held by him. I think he has written two or three books on the subject. Of course honourable senators opposite disagree with him. They have disagreed with him over the years. To try to link this up in the way that they are trying to do is completely wrong.

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