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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2109


Photo of Gorton, John

Gorton, John

Period of Service: 10/01/1968 to 10/03/1971

More information about Gorton, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 14/09/1969

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 2109

Q. What is your reaction, Mr. Prime Minister, to the
demonstration outside?
PM. Well, I think it was a perfectly peaceful and orderly
gathering. There was no attempt to use any force, nothing of that kind.
I think it would have been more interesting if their voices and their
singing had been a little bit better, but that is the only criticism I
would care to make:
Q. Mr. Prime Minister, in our " Today" programme on
Channel 9 on Friday, the External Affairs Minister, Mr. Freeth,
seemed to indicate that any close association with Russia wouldn't do
Australia any good. You seem to have said the opposite to this.
Could you clarify this?
PM. You have got an awful lot of " seems" in there and I
haven't seen the speech to which you refer. Frankly, I don't accept
your interpretation of it and I would doubt very much if it seemed that
Q. But you do agree there is confusion at the moment?
PM. No. I don't. I admit there is misinterpretation of a
perfectly simple speech. It's no different from speeches which have
been made in the past but it has been misinterpreted in very, very
odd ways indeed. There has been some suggestion that we would be
happy to see a military presence or would be happy to join in some
collective security pact or to see Russia join in some collective
security pact. I want to make it perfectly clear that we realise better
than anybody that the continuing aim of communism is imperialist
domination of the world and we would regard it as dangerous for us if
Russian military or naval bases were set up in that part of the world,
but there has never been any slightest suggestion that we should enter
into any kind of collective security pact with Russia. We would not
look with any favour on Russia entering into a military security pact
with countries to our North, but we would like to see the countries to
our North enter into a security pact amongst themselves and help
each other and if that were a common objective, then I would have no
objection whatever to that. But that is quite different to any Russian
military bases or military presence or Russian participation. / 2

Q. Well this actually brings up two points the first, say,
Russian ships in the Indian Ocean.
PM. Well the Indian Ocean is an international ocean and ships
have a right to go there. So far there has been no great incursion of
Soviet ships into the Indian Ocean. If there were, they have a perfect
right to be there and we couldn't stop them unless somebody suggested
we should go to war with Russia or something like that, but should
there be a build-up of Russian naval power in the Indian Ocean then
we would obviously need to watch it as the United States have said they
will be watching it.
Q. On the economic side, you were saying if the countries
to our North formed a pact this would be fine, but if Russia persisted.....
PM. Now are you sure you are not getting a. little confused
yourself. I said " A collective security pact of countries to our North"
which means a general effort of trying to help themselves in all ways,
including military ways as well. On the matter of providing economic
assistance, we want to see the people of these countries given a better
standard of living. That has always been our objective, the hope that
they would get better administrations, their economies would build up
and the benefit of those improved economies would spread throughout
the people. That requires various kinds of economic assistance and
we could certainly have no objection to such economic assistance being
provided by the USSR, provided there were no strings attached,
provided there was no great incursion of technicians or something
else, but this is speaking purely of economic assistance. And that is
our objective.
Q. You don't believe that this is what could be described
as a " soft line"
PM. Good Heavens, no.
Q. Is this what you believe your critics are suggesting is
the " soft line"?
PM. I don't know what they are suggesting except they seem
to have completely distorted what in fact Mr. Freeth said and jumped
to completely unwarranted conclusions about us being happy if there
were military bases or a military presence or Russians entering into
a pact there none of which is justified.
Q. The coming election, Mr. Prime Minister. The
Gallup polls are indicating that there is a substantial swing to the
Labor Party. What is your reaction to this? / 3

PM. The Gallup polls, I think, indicated a three per cent
swing from the high point which would have been roughly the same as
the 1966 elections. That is common. If you look at the history of the
Gallup polls, it is common for them to come closer together during
an election period or when an election is in the offing. Having said
all that I am always happier with Gallup polls which I don't regard
as utter authorities but I am always happier when they go for us
rather than against us.
Q. How do you feel about former Liberals standing against,
for example, the Army Minister, Mr. Lynch?
PM. I think there is a local problem there. Ever since MiL.
Lynch has been elected, a certain group in the electorate has been
strongly opposed to him personally and I think this has played a very
large part.
Q. I will have to use the word " seemed" again because I
can only gauge this from outside reports that there is dissension
within your own Party, that there is certain unhappiness with your
PM. I don't believe there is. Are you basing your question
on the meeting of 12 or 14 people at the North Sydney Branch which is
one of the 25 Branches in the North Sydney electorate. You probably
are. AnyIway it is absolutely ridiculous.
Q. You don't consider some of these " fall-out" people are
spurring others on?
PM. Oh yes, I woulId think so, but I should imagine with
very little success.
Q. One other point which I haven't mentioned to you at all
is the ACTU and the new leader of the ACTU. Do you have any
comment at all about Mr. Bob Hawke's election?
PM. Oh, I think we will have to wait to see what develops.
Q. On this basis, do you believe, as some would say, that
the position of President of the ACTLJ is almost as important in this
country as the Prime Minister?
PM. No, but I think it is a very important position. I don't
think it is as powerful, but I think it is a very significant post.

Transcript 2109