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Wednesday, 30 November 1983
Page: 3053


Mr WELLS —Can the Minister for Foreign Affairs report what progress has been made towards economic and political co-operation and integration among the nations of such regional organisations as the European Economic Community and the Association of South East Asian Nations? Can he inform the House of the impact of these developments on the South Pacific area, particularly as they bear on the need for developments of a similar kind between Australia and New Zealand?


Mr Lusher —About 24 hours notice, Bill.


Mr HAYDEN —I certainly did not help formulate the question, but I may need 24 hours to deliberate fully on it because it raises a vast range of quite profound implications. The political and economic implications of the European Common Market, for instance, are quite extensive in their ramifications. I will summarily say that the economic implications are apparent. They create disadvantages for this country and it is my conclusion that they are creating serious economic distortions within the European Community with consequences which will show up in the medium to longer term as a result of the severe distortion of the use of economic resources. That matter is already being addressed by the European Community, albeit somewhat tardily as far as we are concerned. I feel that there is fairly much a bipartisan attitude of concern about those sorts of policies. That, in turn, leads to the political implications of the Community because as I understand it the commissioners of the European Community would wish to move faster than developments are moving at present. The obstructions in the Community's way arise very much from the nation state members of the European Community who have been pursuing particular self- interests or national interests which are at divergence with the objectives which are being enunciated by some of the commissioners. Let me stop at the European Community because I really think that to go further would take too much time.

ASEAN at this point is an association reflecting very much shared political concerns and shared commercial concerns but it is certainly vastly different from the Community in economic aspect. It is certainly not a Customs union, for instance, and is a long way from achieving that end. For all that, from our point of view it is a very important development. There are many reasons why we find it important but there is the very important reason that countries are sharing common concerns and resolving them through consultation. One of the most important aspects of that is that there are no disputes over borders, waterways or sea lanes, for instance. That is very important for stability in our region.

Finally, what lessons are there in this for any potential relationship between Australia and New Zealand? I note that the Leader of the Opposition is already smiling in anticipation. I suspect that he hopes that I will jump into a bear pit and impale myself. Let me tell him that I did that in 1974 when I visited New Zealand. I rather recklessly suggested that if it was the wish of New Zealanders to join Australia as an extension of the Commonwealth they would be very welcome. I left New Zealand served up on a platter, as it were, because New Zealanders have very strong views about their role. They would be prepared to accept Australia as an extension of New Zealand, but New Zealand as an extension of Australia is unmentionable, and if mentioned, unforgiveable. So I do not intend to go through that again.