PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2985

COMMONWEALTH HEADS OF GOFERNMENT MEETING, OTTAWA

Photo of Whitlam, Gough

Whitlam, Gough

Period of Service: 05/12/1972 to 11/11/1975

More information about Whitlam, Gough on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 13/08/1973

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 2985

NQ DATE 13 August 1973
COMMONEAITT1 HEADS OF GOVERNMENT MEETING, OTTAWA
Attached is the text of the final communique issued
at the conclusion of the Commonwealth Heads of Government
Meeting, Ottawa, 2 10 August, 1973.

FINAL COMMUNIOUE Commonwealth Heads of Government met in Ottawa from
2 10 August. All Commonwealth countries were reoresented, five
by their Presidents or their Heads of State, eighteen by their
Prime Ministers, three by their Vice-Presidents and six by senior
Ministers. The Prime Minister of Canada was in the chair.
Heads of Government warmly welcomed the Prime Ministers
of Bangladesh and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas whose countries
have become members of the Commonwealth since the last meeting
in 1971. They expressed gratitude to the Prime Minister of
Canada for the hospitality provided by his Government.
Oh'n August 3rd the meeting was informed by the Prime
Minister of Malaysia of the sudden death of the Deputy Prime
Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Ismail Bin Dato Abdul Rahman,
suspended its proceedings in tribute, and conveyed sincere
condolences to the Government and people of Malaysia and to the
bereaved family. The meeting was positive in tone and constructive in
its approach. Having agreed to new procedures designed to ensure
informality and free discussion, the leaders put aside set-pieve
speeches and addressed themselves directly both to each other
and to the pressing questions before the meeting. When unanimous
agreement was not possible, mutual understanding of conflicting
viewpoints was achieved. It was agreed that in this regard the
meeting established a most useful precedent for future Commonwealth
consultations. The Commonwealth had been greatly strengthened / 2

by the event and Heads of Government were heartened by this.
Heads of Government were convinced that the association
had once again demonstrated its vitality and flexibility. They
intend to make maximum use of the Commonwealth machinery to put
the principles of the Commonwealth Declaration into practice and
to accelerate the pace of social and economic development among
the less affluent members.
Statement on Nuclear Weapon Tests
Heads of Government issued a statement, on the occasion
of the tenth anniversary of the signing of the treaty banning
nuclear weapon tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and under
water.
World and Commonwealth Trends
In a frank and informal review of world trends Heads of
Government examined changing power relationships and their political
and economic consequences with particular reference to Commonwealth
countries. Views were exchanged on: changing relationships among
the United States, the Soviet Union and China; problems of security
in various regions; the emergence of new centres of economic
power; the continued atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons,
and the need for a comprehensive test ban treaty and for general
and complete disarmament under effective international control;
the situation in the Middle East and South East Asia; the
establishment of a peace zone in the Indian Ocean; and the
situation in Southern Africa with particular reference to Rhodesia. / 3

-3-
While welcoming the general relaxation in international
tension, they nevertheless noted those areas of tension which
continue to threaten international peace and security as well as
the widening gap between the rich and poor nations and recongised
the need for the spirit of detente in all international relations.
Acknowledging the potential for progressive change arising from
shifting power relations Heads of Government recognised that
economic and monetary instability continue to pose urgent problems
for the world's community. As the search for solutions to these
political and economic problems was pursued in the context of the
changing power relationships new opportunities arose for states
other than the major powers to influence world developments, to
contribute to the achievement of peace and security, to ensure the
avoidance of spheres of influence and to secure a regime of social
justice9 economic progress and racial harmony throughout an
increasingly interdeoendent world.
Consultation and co-operation in the Commonwealth, an
informal worldwide association, which included no super power,
could make a special contribution to greater international
understanding as well as to the search for solutions to economic
problems. Heads of Government, therefore, stressed the value of
strengthening practical co-operation between member countries,
both internationally and on a regional basis, and working within
other international organisations ardgroupings in order to give
the medium and small countries a more effective voice in internationa
relations to raise living standards and to improve the quality of
life for all their peoples. / 4

-4-
Heads of Government noted the progress made with regard to
the proposal for a peace zone in the Indian Ocean since the last
conference in Singapore, where they agreed on the desirability of
ensuring that it remains an area of peace and stability. They noted
that the proposal was under study by an ad hoc committee which had
been established by the United Nations and they expressed the hope
that its deliberations would receive the support and co-operation
of all states concerned,
The Heads of Government were greatly concerned about the
deteriorating situation in the Middle East which now presents a
most serious threat to world peace. The deterioration was directly
attributable to the lack of progress in the implementation of the
Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967. They considered that ways
and means should now be urgently sought by all states to give
substance to the Security Council Resolution.
Heads of Government also noted that since the last
conference in Singapore, the Foreign Ministers of the countries
of the Association of South East Asian Nations ( ASEAN) have adopted
a declaration to make South East Asia a zone of peace, freedom and
neutrality. They regarded this initiative as a positive contribution
towards peace and stability in that region.
Trade Heads of Government had a wide-ranging and substantive
discussion on economic issues against the background of widespread
inflation, Particular attention was devoted to problems of
international trade. Heads of Government considered the prospects

for the imnlementation of the generalised system of preferences by
all the developed countries, and for improvements where schemes had
already been introduced or were due to be harmonised. They hoped
that the forthcoming multilateral trade negotiations under the
auspices of GATT would secure world-wide expansion of' trade and
take particular account of the needs of developing countries.
Heads of Government exchanged views on the orospects for
the forthcoming negotiations between the enlarged European Economic
Community and the developing countries of Africa, the Caribbean,
and the Pacific, and exnressed the hope that they would lead to
the conclusion of just, enlightened, and effective arrangements.
The developing Commonwealth countries reiterated their previously
expressed views that the notion of reciprocity could not be a basis
for equitable and enduring relations between them and the EEC, In
the case of the countries to which the joint declaration of intent
in the Tr'eaty of Eqlargement applies, it was urged that the community
should Gake a Dos-Ltive attitude to approaches that have already been
made or might be made, and work out suitable arrangements taking
their trade interests into account before the common external
tariff is applied to British imports from them in accordance with
that treaty. It was recognised that the system of Commonwealth
preferences has provided and continues to provide important
advantages for Commonwealth countries, and the hope was expressed
that the existing favourable arrangements for developing
Commonwealth countries in markets of developed Commonwealth
countries other than Britain should wherever possible be maintained, / 16

-6-
Heads of Government considered the special problems of
countries highly dependent on cxports of agricultural products in
primary, semi-processed, and processed forms, and noted the
desirability of achieving substantial liberalization of trade in
these products in the course of the forthcoming GATT multilateral
negotiations. They underlined the urgent need for deliberate measure
to be taken by the international community to secure equitable and
remunerative returns for such products. To this end, they considered
it essential that new international commodity arrangements be
devised which would deal with this serious problem and Drotect the
foreign exchange earnings of developing countries against excessive
Drnce fluctuations and inroads from synthetics, thereby increasing
their capacity to buy needed imports. There was need also to
increase the export earnings of developing countries from Drimary
products, especially agricultural products, as prices of industrial
goods continue to rise; and to study methods to introduce a
realistic relationship between the Prices of the two categories of
goods. Commonwealth countries should play an active role in the
search for new international commodity arrangements. It was felt
that it was eaually necessary to explore measures to minimise
fluctuations in the prices of mineral products.
Monetary Issues Heads of Government reviewed the work of the Committee
of Twenty and recognized the urg , ent need to work towards the
achievement as quickly as possible of a new and stable international
monetary order, which would take into account the special concerns
of developing countries, particularly as regards the creation of
a link between special drawing rights and development finance.

-7-
Development Assistance
The meeting examined various aspects of development
assistince, including the disadvantages of tied aid, the need for
a more flexible apnroach by aid donors and the importance of
achieving mutually satisfactory relationships between the donors
and recipients of aid, as well as measures for reducing the onerous
debt burdens of developing countries.
Private Foreign Investment
Heads of Government had a lively discussion of the problems
and opportunities involved in private foreign investment. Special
reference was made to the role of multi-national corporations in
a number of Commonwealth countries. Views were exchanged on possible
techniques for ensuring that the operations of investing companies
are compatible with the national goals of host countries, on the
possibility of promoting the exchange of information on this
subject among Commonwealth countries, and on the desirability of
drawing up a code of conduct for international corporations,
International Transport
Heads of Government exchanged views on a number of
important aspects of international transport problems and their
implications, including rising freight rates, dependence on
foreign-owned shipping, and conflicts of interest created by
differences in labour costs and trade union action among member
countries.

-8-
Food Shortages Heads of Government expressed their concern at the growing
shortages and rising prices of food and their hope that these
problems might be considered without undue delay in appropriate
international forums such as the Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations.
It was noted that the facilities of the Commonwealth
Secretariat were available to examine a number of subjects mentioned
in paragraphs 13 to 22. Such an examination might provide the basis
for further action by Commonwealth countries.
Southern Africa Heads of Government had a full and frank exchange of views
on changes and developments in Southern Africa. The meeting also
gave special consideration to the Droblems faced by countries in
Southern Africa which border on territories and countries still
under minority rule. While recognising that there were complex
and difficult problems involved, Heads of Government were agreed
in their opnosition to apartheid and minority rule in Southern
Africa, They therefore recognised the legitimacy of the struggle
to win full human rights and self-determination.
In discussing conditions in South Africa, Namibia and
the Portuguese colonies, it was agreed that Commonwealth members
in a position to do so should seek to use their influence to
persuade Portugal to grant a negotiated indenendence to its
African colonies. The advisory opinion of the International
Court of Justice and Security Council Resolutions on Namibia / 9

-9-
were recalled and emnhasis placed on international responsibility
for that territory. There was discussion on how Commonwealth
countries, especially those with economic interests in South Africa
and Namibia, might best bring influence to bear to oromote change.
Heads of Government reviewed the efforts of the indigenous people
of the territories in Southern Africa to achieve self-determination
and independence and agreed on the need to give every humanitarian
assistance to all those engaged in such efforts. The British
Government reserved its position in relation to the last proposal
in circumstances in which assistance might be converted into
military purposes. Heads of Government expressed their intense concern for the
situation in Rhodesia and the damaging consequences of a continued
absence of a settlement. They appreciated the efforts made by the
British Government with whom the responsibility lay and were united
in their willingness to contribute towards a solution. All were
agreed on seeking a peaceful settlement and that the objective
was majority rule. They took note of the meeting between Ian Smith
and Bishop Muzorewa and associated themselves with the British
Government's wish for the discussions to be broadened and the
necessary steps taken to remove restrictions so as to enable all
groups representative of Hhodesian opinion to take part. The
British Prime Minister welcomed the constructive suggestions made
and undertook to take them into account as the situation developed.
Heads of Government considered the report of the
Commonwealth Sanctions Committee and authorised the Committee to
continue its work. It was agreed that in the light of the
recommendations contained in that renort further efforts should

be made to render sanctions more effective pending an acceptable
settlement. Heads of Government also took note of the development
of the Special Commonwealth Programme for assisting the education
of Rhodesian Africans and supported its continuation. The Zambian
Foreign Minister expressed his Government's appreciation of
Commonwealth assistance to Zambia.
Heads of Government welcomed the opportunity to exchange
views on comparative techniques of Government. They had a lively
and useful discussion which included consideration of such subjects
as: the determination of national priorities; the problem of
ensuring effective implementation of Government decisions;
fostering communication between Government and people; the redress
of economic disparities; and the problem of correcting economic
imbalances as between urban and rural areas. Heads of Government
agreed that the question of comparative techniques of Government
should be the subject of further discussion at future Heads' of
Government meetings and that, in the interim the Commonwealth
Secretariat should undertake appropriate preliminary studies
to facilitate such discussion.
Commonwealth Functional Co-operation
Heads of Government agreed that functional co-operation
was an important and dynamic aspect of the Commonwealth. They
expressed warm appreciation of the way in which the Commonwealth
Fund for Technical Co-operation ( CFTC) was developing in meeting
the priority needs of member countries, and commented favourably
on its flexibility and speedy response. They agreed that activities
undertaken through the fund should be intensified and commended
for further study various pronosals for their extension. / 11

-11-
Heads of Government noted with appreciation the generous
contributions being made by several governments, and especially
by Canada, and hoped that further contributions on a voluntary
basis would be provided by other participating countries.
Heads of Government noted the Secretary-General's
proposal for a target of between one per cent and two per cent
of total Commonwealth aid flows through Commonwealth multilateral
channels. They agreed that further consideration should
be given at the next Finance Ministers Meeting to the means by
which an increased flow could be brought about.
Heads of Government agreed to refer the proposal for
the establishment of a Commonwealth Development Bank and a report
on export credit financing in Commonwealth developing countries
to Commonwealth Finance Ministers for consideration.
Heads of Government gave preliminary consideration to
a proposal for a Commonwealth Centre for Applied Studies in
Government and agreed that the detailed requirements for such a
centre should be studied and a report prepared for consideration,
if possible, by senior Commonwealth officials in 1974.
Commonwealth Youth Programme
Heads of Government endorsed the Commonwealth Youth
Programme which was approved by Ministers concerned with youth
matters. They agreed that the scope of the programme should take
into account the particular needs of individual countries and / 12

-12-
expressed warm anpreciation of the pledges which had been made
towards the agreed target of one million pounds over three years.
Heads of Government instructed the Secretary-General to proceed with
the immediate implementation of the agreed programme.
Commonwealth Foundation
Heads of Government agreed that the budget of the
Commonwealth Foundation be increased to C450,000 per annum for the
roeriod 1 July 1974 to 30 June 1976.
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
Heads of Government noted with appreciation the contribution
by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in promoting contacts
between Members of Parliament of Commonwealth countries at annual
conferences, and providing a forum for them to exchange views and
discuss matters of common interest at regional and international
levels thereby furthering Commonwealth ideals and interests.
Report of the Commonwealth Secretary-General
Heads of Government took note of the fourth reoort of
the Commonwealth Secretary-General.

Transcript 2985