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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2395

Senator FOREMAN —by leave—I present the report of the 1994 Australian parliamentary delegation to the Federal Republic of Germany and the United Kingdom. I seek leave to move a motion in relation to the report.

  Leave granted.

Senator FOREMAN —I move:

  That the Senate take note of the report.

The delegation comprised Senator Michael Beahan, the President of the Senate, who was the leader of the delegation, Mr Allan Rocher MP, the deputy leader, Mr Philip Cleary MP, Senator Alan Ferguson, and me.

  The visit by the delegation to Germany was timely in providing an opportunity to observe and gain views on the tremendous changes which have happened in Germany since the reunification of the former Federal Republic of Germany with the former GDR. The delegation was accorded the highest level of hosting and access, which ensured that the visit was a great success. During meetings in Berlin, Dresden, Weimar, Gotha, Erfurt and Bonn, we met a wide range of parliamentarians at the federal and state levels, as well as local government officials and business people. Our discussions enabled us to meet all the objectives of the visit to a high degree.

  In the report the delegation has made a number of observations. We have supported youth exchanges for parliamentary, political and company training programs; the establishment of an Australian institute at the University of Potsdam; fact finding missions and international conferences to promote Australia as a base for business and investment; and a non-permanent seat for Germany on the United Nations Security Council, which has now happened.

  In the report we have identified a number of trade and investment opportunities in coal and wine export; opportunities for investment and technology transfer in the environmental clean-up of the eastern laender; and joint ventures and partnerships in diverse areas including rail, telecommunications and other high-tech areas. We have assessed German interests in the Asia-Pacific region, including noting their desire to participate in APEC. We emphasised the advantages of using Australia as a base for trade and investment opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region. We discussed a variety of matters related to the European Union, including Germany's program priorities when it assumes the presidency of the EU on 1 July. We compared the German and Australian experiences in parliamentary matters—including electronic voting, streamlining parliamentary processes and comparing the Bundesrat and the Senate—coping with unemployment, vocational training, the role of women, land ownership, multiculturalism, and migration and refugee issues.

  We learnt about the different levels of government in Germany, the work of political foundations, issues facing the reunited FRG, including issues confronting the newest states, privatisation of companies in the former East, economic developments and environmental concerns, as well as foreign policy issues. We discussed changing German perceptions about contemporary Australia, and we promoted contact between camel racing enthusiasts.

  In the United Kingdom the pace and nature of the program were very different. We had opportunities to meet a large number of parliamentary colleagues in a variety of informal settings to discuss a broad range of matters of mutual interest. Of special significance was the meeting with the Anzac Parliamentary Group. A brief call on the Lord Chancellor and official functions hosted by the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Scottish Office and by the Speaker of the House of Commons were highlights.

  The delegation appreciated the opportunity to explore an interest in urban renewal by visiting Glasgow and the Canary Wharf development in London. We also explored the UK's role in the European Union. We identified opportunities for trade and investment, including aerospace and computer technology, wine, radiata pine door panels, ferries and catamarans. We promoted Australia as a base for trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. We compared the impact of GATT and the CAP, and the UK and Australian committee systems. We discussed media matters at the BBC and News International, and proposals to consolidate the offices of state agents-general in London. We also tried to change perceptions about Australia to make people more aware of the contemporary situation. A number of parliamentary matters were raised during the trip. We have also made observations about visiting delegations signing special guest books, the selection of gifts and opening the floor of the chamber to the public during non-sitting weeks.

  Thanks must go to a number of people who contributed to the success of the delegation's visit. Our thanks go to President Klaus Wedemeier, President of the Bundesrat, for according us such a high level of access and hosting arrangements; the Berlin State Chamber of Deputies, the state parliaments of Saxony and Thuringia and the Bundestag must also be thanked.

  In the UK, our thanks go to the joint presidents of the UK branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association; the Rt Hon. Lord Mackay of Clashfern—the Lord Chancellor; and the Rt Hon. Betty Boothroyd MP—the Speaker of the House of Commons. Our thanks also go to the UK branch of the CPA, in particular, Mr Jim Lester MP, Mr George Foulkes MP, and Baroness Cherry Strange; and the Chairman of the Anzac Parliamentary Group, the Rt Hon. Alf Morris AO QSO MP; and our many other friends and colleagues at Westminster.

  Staff of the Australian Embassy in Bonn and the Consulate-General in Berlin are to be commended for the excellent assistance provided to ensure that the program went smoothly and that the delegation was well briefed—in particular, His Excellency Mr John Bowan and Ms Margaret Adamson. In the UK, the delegation would like to acknowledge the excellent briefing and assistance provided by the staff of the Australian High Commission—in particular, Mr David Goss, Acting High Commissioner, Mr Ian Wilcock, Mr David Richards and Ms Liz Lindores.

  Others who deserve thanks are staff of the Parliamentary Relations Office who made all of the administrative arrangements for our trip—in particular, Sue Morton and Kelly Edwards; Chris Fitzgerald from Qantas, who made all of our flight bookings; and Jan Fuhrman from Prime Minister and Cabinet, for the selection of gifts. Special thanks go to the House of Representatives printing section which produced the report in time to table it today. We also thank the secretariat of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training for its support. Our thanks go to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Austrade and the Parliamentary Reporting Service for the provision of briefing material—Dr Margaret Clarke, Ms Pam McDonald and Ms Patti Taylor from DFAT, Mr Christopher Lang from Austrade, and Mr Michael Ong from PRS. I thank our able leader, fellow delegates and spouses and the delegation secretary for a most memorable trip. I commend the report to the Senate.