Skip to main content

Historical documents

9 Extracts From Statement In The House Of Representatives By Casey

27th September, 1951


Although Australia was colonised and developed by people of
European stock, and although our cultural past story and our
present connections are such that our eyes turn most naturally
towards Europe, our geographical situation is such that we must
inevitably be brought into close touch with the peoples of Asia.

If we make no effort to understand their problems we can scarcely
expect them to make an effort to understand ours. Differences of
race, religion, language and culture could easily lead to
regrettable misunderstandings which might adversely affect our
relations with them.

It is not sufficient for us to be vaguely conscious of the
existence of our near neighbours to the North-in fact it is
essential that we should get to know them, establish personal
contacts, exchange visits and study their problems as well as our
own. By endeavouring, within the limits of our capacity, to help
them solve their own great problems, we can do much to create
mutual understanding, and develop close and friendly relationships
with them for the future, which I believe is no less than
essential for both them and ourselves.

[matter omitted]

On taking over the portfolio of External Affairs it seemed to me
that a further initiative [1] should be taken by Australia to
establish friendly links with Asian countries in the political
field. I therefore decided to make an immediate personal contact
visit to countries in South-East Asia to demonstrate by a public
act our desire for friendly contacts. As I had not personally
visited countries east or north of Singapore in the past, I felt
that such a visit would also enable me, through direct experience
on the spot, to understand far better the problems of the area and
to be in a position to deal with them more effectively on my
return to Australia. For similar reasons, I asked the Secretary of
the Department of External Affairs to accompany me on my trip.

I left Australia on 20th July and returned on 22nd August. In the
interval, I spent an average of about four days in each of the
eight different countries. [2] In the time at my disposal it was
not, of course, possible for me to travel to every country that I
would have wished to visit. Nevertheless the area I covered was
substantial, and in each country I had the opportunity of meeting
and engaging in discussions not only with the leaders of the
respective governments, but also with our own Australian
diplomatic and consular representatives, the representatives of
the United Kingdom, the United States and a number of other
governments. As a result, I venture to believe that in spite of
the shortness of my visits, it was possible to obtain a cross
section of opinion which has helped me greatly to form a balanced
judgement of the various problems of the area as a whole.

1 The preceding paragraph had dealt with the Colombo Plan for
technical and development assistance to South and South-East Asia.

2 Indonesia, Malaya, Vietnam, Thailand, Hong Kong, the
Philippines, Japan and Korea.

[AA : A1838/1, 558/4, x]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top