Australian-born journalist Wilfred Burchett arrived home in Sydney on Thursday (22 February) from North Vietnam after finally being given a new passport.
GV Sydney Harbour
CU Burchett speaks
BURCHETT: "And how many more journalists were reporting from the Communist side? How many New York Times, Washington Post, CBS people went to Hanoi, and now many hundreds more, including Australians, asked to come to Hanoi to look at the other side? Whose war? Look, if the Vietnamese had invaded Australia and we were fighting on Australian soil, that would have been your question. I would think that Australian troops killing and being killed in a cause which had nothing whatsoever to do with Australia, with no identifiable Australian interest.
REPORTER: "Mr. Burchett, how do you react to statement that people call you a traitor?
BURCHETT: "Well, my first reaction is to ask them to say that in print and I'll sue them.
REPORTER: "You say you're not a communist air, so where do you stand politically?
DURCHETT: "Where do I stand politically? I stand as a journalist. I take an.. er.. first of all, I am completely independent. I think it would be true to say that I am more independent than anybody in this room.
REPORTER: "Would you welcome an inquiry into this?
BURCHETT: "I wouldn't... re... look. If the Prime Minister said "Look" you ought to come before an inquiry", I would go before the inquiry', but I think it would be an awful waste of time and waste of money.
REPORTER: "Do you feel anything against the former administration for refusing you a passport?
BURCHETT: "Well, of course I do. I'm bitter. It depends what sort of mood I'm in. Sometimes I'm in a mellower mood and I don't feel bitter. But when this sort of stuff is being kept thrown at me, I feel bitter at the sort of people that are sponsoring... that are behind that."
Initials ESP/2207 ESP/2211
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Australian-born journalist Wilfred Burchett arrived home in Sydney on Thursday (22 February) from North Vietnam after finally being given a new passport.
Mr. Burchett covered the Korean and Vietnam wars from North Korea and North Vietnam, and when he lost his original passport, the former Liberal Government in Australia refused to renew it. The reason for the refusal was "because of his actions during the Korean war".
The newly-installed Labour Government issued him with a new passport, and Mr. Burchett will spend six weeks in Australia lecturing in most states and making films.
Mr. Burchett, who told newsmen that he wasn't a member of the Communist Party, said he would be prepared to go before a Government inquiry into his actions.
The following is a transcript of Mr. Burchett's news conference at Sydney Airport.