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Prime Minister John Gorton Addresses the National Press Club

This is audio and text of Prime Minister John Gorton’s address to the National Press Club on June 20, 1968.

Gorton appeared at the Press Club just 5 months and 10 days after becoming prime minister, following the death of Harold Holt.

He had just returned from a 12-day trip to South-East Asia, where he visited South Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. The trip was against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and its escalation via the Tet Offensive just weeks after Gorton became PM.

Gorton announced an extra $132 million of Defence spending, including an extra 3000 men for the regular forces and new equipment.

The Age

Gorton said: “One of the main purposes of the visits to these countries nearest us was to demonstrate that although there had been a change of Prime Ministers in Australia, there had been no change in our interest in or desire to co-operate with those Asian countries in our region. I wished to demonstrate that that policy, furthered by my predecessor, was a continuing policy of the Australian Gvoernemnt and, as I believe of the Australian people. This, I think, the visit succeeded in doing.”

The Age newspaper in Melbourne editorialised on Gorton’s speech, quoting his words that Australia was facing “tantalising years” in South-East Asia.

Listen to Gorton’s National Press Club Address (64m):

The Age

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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