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Tuesday, 13 August 1974
Page: 784

Senator DAVIDSON - My question is addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the situation concerning the Government's recognition of the Baltic states as part of the Soviet Union. At what period of last month did the Government take the decision for recognition? Does the Minister not consider that such decision should have been reported to Parliament at the time? Was the decision made by the full Cabinet? Was it made on the recommendation of the Foreign Minister and was he present at the meeting of the Cabinet when the decision was made?

The PRESIDENT - Notice has been given that a similar subject will be discussed by the Senate pursuant to an urgency motion. I leave to the Minister's discretion whether he wishes to answer the question now or at some later time.

Senator WILLESEE -I think we are to debate this subject tomorrow. Perhaps the question could be left till then.

Senator Withers - I rise on a point of order, Mr President -

Senator WILLESEE -A11 right. You want me to answer it.

Senator Withers - I have only given notice of motion. I may not proceed with it.

Senator WILLESEE - I do not recall on what date Sir James Plimsoll went there.

Senator DAVIDSON -No; on what date last month did the Government make the decision?

Senator WILLESEE -It is the same thing. The decision that was made was to send him there. I do not recall the date. I could find out for the honourable senator. Was I present at the Cabinet meeting? No, it was not a Cabinet decision. It is clear policy and therefore it is carried out by the Minister. Those were the 2 points of the question, I think.

Senator Davidson - Did you make the decision?

Senator WILLESEE - The decision was made while I was overseas, but I concurred in it when I returned. The situation was that I ordered a paper to be prepared on the pros and cons of the subject as one always does before making decisions such as this. The paper was submitted to the Acting Minister while I was away. He made the decision. I concur in what he did.

Senator Marriott - Shades of the Gair affair.

Senator WILLESEE -No; I concur in this one.

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