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Thursday, 21 November 1974
Page: 2626

Senator LAUCKE (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I direct my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the bitter condemnation levelled at the Australian Government by Alexander Solzhenitsyn for, in his words, 'forgiving and forgetting the Russian occupation of Eastern Europe in the interests of a closer association with the Soviets'. Bearing in mind the revelations made by the Russian writer in his book 'Gulag Archipelago' of the inhuman oppression he experienced in his own country, will the Government now reassess its attitude towards the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and reconsider its recent action with respect to the de jure recognition of the incorporation of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania into the USSR?

Senator WILLESEE - I have seen reports of the comments made by Mr Solzhenitsyn. I very much regret that some of the remarks he made obviously were based on misconceptions about the Government's decision concerning the Baltic States. There has never been any question of forgiveness in regard to the Government's recognition of the present position of the Baltic States. After the passage of so many years the Government's decision simply represented the recognition of the realities of the situation. It is only fair to say that there has been a persistent campaign of misrepresentation of the Government's decision on this matter.

Senator Webster - Rubbish!

Senator WILLESEE -Can 't we pick where they come from? The real old com baiters come through.

Senator Webster - You have not the stomach to say the same about South Africa.

Senator WILLESEE - That was an interjection from Senator Webster, the racist defender. It is only fair to say that there has been a persistent campaign of misrepresentation of the Government's decision in this matter. It appears clear from Mr Solzhenitsyn 's remarks that he has been one of many people deceived by this campaign insofar as he has been led to believe that the Government's decision implies attitudes such as forgiveness when it does no such thing. I hope that Hansard has been able to record my answer in spite of the organised interjections.

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