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Tuesday, 12 November 1974
Page: 2254

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - I refute the suggestions that in some way a senator ought not to refer to matters which are contained in the report and to place the blame for omissions on the person to whom all such blame must attach in this place. The blame must attach not to officers of a department but to the man who politically carries the responsibility for the department. No matter how many second thoughts members of the Government who served on this Committee may have, the words of the report speak for themselves. It is quite clear from the words of the report that the members of the Committee had difficulty in obtaining all the information they required. They gave the reasons that they were unable to obtain that information. This reflects upon the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee). We have had ample experience of the Minister's shortness in dealing with questions, his refusals to give information and his willingness to allow the Senate to be misled about matters which are his responsibility.

Not very long ago we had the disgrace of the Ermolenko affair in which the Minister withheld information from this chamber. If we had had the information it might have prevented a person being taken out of this country against his wishes. At present we do not know whether he went out of this country against his will, but there is no question that the Minister's conduct was a factor in enabling him to be whisked out of this country in a manner which reflects no credit upon the Minister, upon the Government or upon its willingness to adhere to principles under which the courts determine whether people are being held against their will. We have seen conduct on the part of this Government- I do not go into it in detail- for which the Minister carries the responsibility. I refer to what has been said about the recognition of the Baltic States. To this day we have been given no adequate reason- there has been no attempt to give any reason, as my recollection serves me- why before 18 May 1974 the Government adopted an attitude that there would be no change from the traditional policy which successive governments had followed, and why in the middle of July a decision was taken that the incorporation of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union would be recognised by this Government.

We say that it is all part of a shameful exercise by this Government to curry favour with a number of nations in the world with a view to securing votes to promote a person's candidacy for the presidency of the United Nations. There is no question that Senator Willesee is a candidate. If it is not true, I ask the Minister for Agriculture (Senator Wriedt) or any honourable senator to say forthrightly that Senator Willesee will not be a candidate for the presidency of the United Nations. We know that he has been canvassing support, and other people have been canvassing support on his behalf around the world. It is a sorry day when Australia's national interests are subordinated in this curiously selective way to the desire to have a person as the President ofthe United Nations. That is not the only consideration which seems to be motivating the Government's foreign policy. I spoke only because it appeared that the report of this Senate Committee gave ample evidence of that which we in the Opposition have been experiencing during the time that the present Minister for

Foreign Affairs has had his portfolio- an unwillingness to come clean with what Australia is pursuing.

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