Ian Macphee served as Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs under Malcolm Fraser between 1979 and 1983. By 1982, Australia had taken 55,000 Vietnamese refugees. He looks back at the process and contrasts it with the approach of the Morrison government. As told to Crikey's Charlie Lewis:
I was aware of the Vietnamese crisis from the beginning. I was studying South-East Asia at University and I actually visited Saigon just after the Tet Offensive -- people thought that was very foolish, but it gave me a good sense of how things were on the ground.
The United States should never have gone into that war, and we should never have followed them. It came from the stupid idea that communism is a monolith -- it’s not. Like Christianity and Islam, it’s influenced by local cultures. The Vietnamese brand of communism was not the same as Chinese communism, and Ho Chi Minh was quite a fine man.