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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 6. 1967.

Minister of Defence speaks on Vic campus

page 5

Minister of Defence speaks on Vic campus

A Hope that foreign policy might one day become a bi-partisan function of government was expressed by the Minister of Defence, Mr. Thompson, at the last of the Political Science Society's special lectures. He based this on the concurrence, until recently, of the two major political parties with regard to New Zealand's defence commitments as laid down by the Seato Treaty and its interpretation in the Defence White Papers of 1958, 1961 and 1966.

He said that although New Zealand was represented well in the Boer War. and the First and second World Wars, the Korean War was the first time we had deployed troops in defence of an agreement made as a sovereign state, and that our policy is now determined by treaty obligations.

"As Minister of Defence." he said "I am charged with the task of organising and deploying forces in our de-fence and in the defence of our allies to whom we are obligated."

"Force" he said, "must achieve political reason to make sense, otherwise it just becomes useless murder."

In addition to the New Zealand and British Defence White Papers. Mr. Thompson quoted from a speech by Sir Waller Nash to the House in 1964 and a report to the House by Mr. Douglas in 1963 (both members of the opposition a the time) in support of his government's policy of intervention in Vietnam.

There was considerable time for questioning.

Q. Where is the aggression from without coming from within Vietnam?

A. Mr. Douglas's report made it quite clear that the Vietnam conflict is not a civil war.

Q. Are Britain. Pakistan and France welching on their Seato treaty obligation by not intervening in Vietnam?

A. Fortuntely I am not the Defence Minister of any country other than New Zealand.

Q. Do you think that Seato is a viable treaty for the defence of South-East Asia?

A. Yes. I do.

Q. Do you think there is a need for a new form of treaty for the defence of South-East Asia?

A. I have not yet heard of any of the signatories expressing the desire to withdraw. Q. Do you believe that United Nations has a useful role to play in Vietnam?

A Yes I do. in the same way as it had a useful role to play in Suez and as an observer in Pakistan, Kashmir and Korea.

Q. Is it true that New Zealand might be present in Vietnam for reasons of trade or to improve her international standing?

A. There must be other considerations in any such situation other than just security, but I believe the troops are there primarily in terms of our treaty agreements.

From the guarded approach to his "thinking audience" it could be said that Mr. Thomp-son was perhaps rather a defensive minister than the Minister of Defence