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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2724

PRIME MINISTER CALLS FOR HARD LOOK AT FOREIGN, DEFENCE ALTERNATIVES - STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE RT HON WILLIAM MCMAHON CH MP

Photo of McMahon, William

McMahon, William

Period of Service: 10/03/1971 to 05/12/1972

More information about McMahon, William on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 27/11/1972

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 2724

PRIME MINISTER
FOR PRESS: PRIME MINISTER CALLS FOR HARD LOOK AT FO3EIGN,
DEFENCE ALTERNATIVES
Statement by the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon.
William McMahon,
The Prime Minister, Mr NcMahon, said today that of all
the issues facing the Australian people at this election, the
defence and foreign policies of the major Parties were undoubtedly
the most critical.
" The other issues, important as they are, will count for
nothing if we are unable to quarantee our people freedom and
security for the future," he said.
" The one single factor in this election which should concern
the Australian people above all others, is the future security of
our country", Mr 1-cMahon said.
" We must not throw away our safeguards. It would be more
than foolhardy to do so it would be the most dangerous risk that
any political leader ever contemplated," he said.
" Put simply, Labor's policies call for the abandonment of
our military treaties and regional agreements, and the withdrawal
of our troops from South-East Asia to what would be a 7garrison
Australia'". " Labor has also declared that it would scrap the National
Service programme which would cut the effectiveness of our Army by
about half," he said.
" And, furthermore, the anti-Aunerican left wing would see to
it that by imposing unacceptable conditions on the United Stat: s,
they would force them to remove their communications installations
from Australia. " And, aaain, Mr Whitlam has said that he would establish
diplomatic relations immediately with the People's Republic of
China, throwing Taiwan to the wolves, and that he would set up an
Australian Embassy in Peking in the New Year.

" That is Labor's attitud. but it could never be a
substitute for a foreign policy," e M-x McMahon said.
" The effects of these policies would be felt by our people
for many years to come. You cannot rebuild treaties and
friendships overnight.
" Labor's external policies would be disastrous for Australia
and quite certainly irreversible", Mr Mcmahon said.
" It is important to consider what changes of this character
would do to our standing with our South-East Asian friends and
allies, and the effect that such changes would have on the various
countries in our own region," he said.
" To cut our ties in this region and to jump in hastily,
in sycophantic fashion, to close relations with the People's
Re-nublic Of China, would bring about an equally quick reappraisal
oft us by our Asian neighbours.
" Certainly the stability and cohesion of the region would
be shaken. " If we were to show such scant regard for the security of
our own area, could we expect the United States and Britain and
New Zealand to accept the extra responsibility that was curs and
be prepared to shoulder our burden?" He said.
" of course we could not.
" if we were not prepared to~ play our part, all of our
treaties would go by the board. The big powers would not stay in
the region if we were to pull out, There can be no doubt about
that. " This would leave a powiz r vacuum in our north, and a power
of another kind would flow into that vacuum. The political
leaders of South-East Asia know -that they have said so publicly
and that is what they fear.
" It is for these reasons that I urge the Australian people
to take a long hard look at our foreign policies and those of the
Australian Labor Party," he said.
" Labor's policies are left-wing madness.
" Far from being progressive olicies, they are, a positive
danger to the future safety of our people.
" You cannot defend Australia with policies of isolationism
and pacifism," Mr McMahon said.
" The pro-communist wing of the Labor Party has done its job
well. It has written into Labor's platform a formula that would
make Australia completely powerless and isolated.
" The Australian people must recognise that policies of this
kind can only jeopardise our present nosition and imperil the
security of future generations of Australians", Mir McMahon said.
CANBERRA, 27 November, 1972

Transcript 2724