Australia's Labour Prime Minister Gough Whitlam -- arriving in Britain on Friday (April 20) for his first visit as a Premier -- has denied that the two nations are 'drifting apart'.
LV Aircraft on airport apron
SV Whitlam and family down steps of aircraft and greeted by Australian High Commissioner
MV Whitlam and wife with Australian High Commissioner and party walk to airport lunge
MCU Whitlam interviewed by reporter
IN: "Britain and Australia..."
OUT: "....which I'll be discussing."
REPORTER: "Britain and Australia seem to be drifting apart. Is that what you want?"
WHITLAM: "No, I don't think we're drifting apart, but each is concentrating on is own region more than it did in the past. This was inevitable and I think the transition ....or, the transformation of relations with our neighbours -- Britain's relations with her neighbours, Australia's relations with her neighbours -- will be all the more fruitful if we acknowledge that change is not only inevitable but desirable. There are always, of course....there always will be great links between Australia and Britain...they are so obvious...."
REPORTER: "But you said you wanted to lose some informal and constitutional ties between the two countries...."
WHITLAM: "I want to modernise the constitutional arrangements and those, of course, are matters which I'll be discussing."
Initials BB/0006 WLW/BOB/BB/0015
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Australia's Labour Prime Minister Gough Whitlam -- arriving in Britain on Friday (April 20) for his first visit as a Premier -- has denied that the two nations are 'drifting apart'. His only motive in wishing to cut some ties between the two, he told reporters on his arrival at London Airport, was to 'modernise constitutional arrangements'.
Mr. Whitlam, in Britain for six days, was scheduled to hold official talks with Britain's Conservative Prime Minister, Edward Heath, and other ministers. They were to discuss world economic and defence questions, Asian developments, and Australia's constitutional position.
The Australian leader flew to Britain following a Canadian stop-over. Earlier, he had attended a conference in Western Samoa of seven south Pacific nations -- who asked him to seek Britain's help in stopping France from conducting further nuclear tests in the Pacific. Both Australia and New Zealand are among the Pacific nations strongly opposed to any further such tests.