The National Times - Amazing Scenes - WEEK ENDING MARCH 24, 1979

How Australia Influences the World



WITH Malcolm Fraser turning to China to prevent feared Soviet depredations in Asia via a Moscow-backed Hanoi, it might be worth recalling that not much more than a decade ago his former Liberal Party colleague, Paul Hasluck was doing exactly the opposite.


The scene is Moscow, late 1964. Wilfred Burchett has just arrived from South Vietnam with a story about the Vietcong being a firmly based local guerilla movement, a story which was to be roundly poohpoohed by the "experts" in Canberra.

They, the experts, have their eyes pinned on another visitor to Moscow, Paul Ha1uck. then External Affairs Minister and later put forward as the intellectual superior to other claimants for power in the Liberal Party, in- cluding Malcolm Fraser.

Mr Hasluck has a grand design. He and his "experts" have already spotted Peking as the big threat in Asia. And they have already de- cided that the guerillas in South Vietnam are not just a few local bandits on the run.

They are the agents of Hanoi which in turn is the agent of an aggressive expansionist Peking determined to extend its sinister writ through South-East Asia.

The problem is that the rest of the world, including even the Russians, are not properly aware of all this. So he, Hasluck, has gone to great trouble to invite himself to Moscow to pass on the message and drum up support.

He has demanded to see not only the Soviet Foreign Minister, Gromyko, but Premier Kosygin also.

The great day dawns. Into the golden halls of the Kremlin he is ushered, with the Soviet representatives drawn up in puzzled ranks on the other side of the green baize table.

Out comes the Australian version of world affairs. First of all the Soviets must realise the world is a nasty place, that they have power and that they should be prepared to use that power to control some of the nasties around the place.

(A mild flap ensues because "power" is translated into Russian as sila which also happens to mean force. Kosygin insists strongly that force should never be used to settle international problems.)

Hasluck continues: Australians are deeply aware of China's expansionist plans. The Soviets might still want to settle their ideological dispute with their former Chinese comrades but they should cast away such illusions and join us in opposing the common enemy.

After all, surely the Soviet leaders realise China's territorial ambitions to take over Sinkiang (Gromyko notes drily that Sinkiang has been Chinese territory for quite some time).

What is more the Chinese have already said they want to take over the Soviet Far East. (The interpreter gets round this inaccuracy by a deliberate mistranslation.)

So with even the Soviet Union threatened by China surely the Soviet leaders must realise how we Australians feel. End of spiel. Kosygin and Gromyko make a few demurring remarks. All retire.

But Hasluck does not give up easily. Back in Australia he denounces Hanoi as a puppet of Peking.

Assurances are given by both him and his top diplomats that Australia will support the Soviets if they are attacked by China in their border dispute.

(Some years later Malcolm Fraser, the intellecturally inferior claimant for LP power, travels all the way to Sinkiang to assure the Chinese of Australian support if they are attacked by Moscow in their border dispute.)

How do I know all these things? For one thing I was sitting at the green baize table in the Kremlin. And the rest is all on public record.

But why not just ask the "experts" who concocted all this. They are still giving advice to the Government. And getting paid for it. - GREGORY CLARK

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