PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 3154

VISIT TO SOUTH-EAST ASIA

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: 14/02/1974

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 3154

PRIME MINISTER
VISIT TO SOUTH-EAST ASIA 14 February 1974
" I have come to the end of a most important visit to
six nations of South-East Asia Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Burma,
Singapore and the Philippines. My visit served two basic purposes.
It enabled me to explain at first hand the aims and purposes of the
Australian Government's foreign policy and to hear the views of our
friends and neighbours on issues of common concern. It also enabled
me to set in train official negotiations on a wide range of practical
issues, especially in the area of trade.
The results have given me unqualified satisfaction. There
are no outstanding differences between Australia and her neighbours
in the region. our foreign policies are fully understood and warmly
approved. The Australian Government has established and our
neighbours have recognised a genuine and continuing interest in
South-East Asia. We are now seen as a steadfast and interested
partner a true participant in the destiny of the region.
There can be no turning back from this commitment.
I was struck throughout my visit by the warmth and cordiality
of the reception given to me and my officials in each of the countries
we visited. I encountered a genuine affection for Australia and her
people and a positive and heartening response to the changes and new
directions in Australia's foreign policies.
One result of my visit has been a series of decisions in
favour of trade and cultural agreements between Australia and the
countries of South-East Asia. We have agreed to update our trade
agreements with Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines and to open
negotiations for a trade agreement with Laos.
I was able to explain the benefits of our new policies on
Australian investment overseas and our plans for trade concessions
for developing countries. These initiatives were warmly welcomed
in all the countries I visited. / 2

2
In a number of countries I was asked whether Australia could
supply, usually on a long term basis, commodities of basic importance
to their economies. Favourable responses have already been given
concerning sugar, wheat and rice to Malaysia, and coal to Burma.
Contacts are continuing concerning the supply of steel, nitrogeneous
fertilisers and liquid petroleum gas to Asian markets. I have made
clear in each country I have visited that the increased flow of two-wa3
trade is one of our prime objectives in our relations with South-East
Asia. During my trip I took the opportunity to talk to students
and their leaders and gained a valuable understanding of their
concerns and aspirations.
I assured the Governments of the region that while Australia
still retained her natural interest in the defence and security of
South-East Asia, we saw our future involvement in the region and
indeed the best hope for the nations of the region itself in terms
of growing co-operation and mutual assistance in the peaceful and
productive areas of trade, economic assistance and social development
based on the needs and wishes of the people.
Most important of all, perhaps, in my talks with political
leaders and in my public speeches, I was able to lay to rest any
lingering suspicions of Australia as a racist country. I trust
that Australia's old racist image has been buried forever.
Australia is now closer in spirit and objectives to the
nations of South-East Asia than ever before. On the basis of new
and enriched understandings, and a common acceptance of the inevitability
of change in the wake of cold war rivalries and out-dated
ideological obsessions, our country will establish new and lasting
friendships with our neighbours.
CANBERRA. A. C. T.

Transcript 3154