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Monday, 30 March 1987
Page: 1693

Mr STAPLES —by leave-Many delegations from this Parliament go to many places of the world, but I put to the House that the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the European Parliamentary Institutions and the Federal Republic of Germany is a very important, ongoing delegation. It brings Australian parliamentarians into direct contact with very important international bodies-the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the European Commission and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Whilst we live in the Asian-Pacific basin, a most dynamic area in terms of market growth for many years, our future will be linked very closely to that of Europe, both on an individual country basis and in regard to the European Commission. Obviously, our links will be very much cultural and political but also in trade matters.

This delegation provides an opportunity to the Parliament for contact not only as often occurs on a Minister to Minister level, particularly in trade areas, but also on a parliamentarian to parliamentarian level. It provides a face to face opportunity to discuss issues such as those which the honourable member for Lindsay (Mr Free) has just outlined-the common agricultural policy. This opportunity, which is given to parliamentarians on both sides of the House, not only adds to the ability of honourable members on each side to see policies in a different light outside this chamber but also allows us to put Australia's position to the European Community. That is very important and worth while. I certainly encourage individual members and this Parliament to continue this liaison with Europe.

As far as our visit to Brussels was concerned, at one stage we were briefed by NATO. I was quite concerned about the level of briefing we received. My education during the 1950s placed a very heavy emphasis on Cold War politics. I was very disappointed to see that so little has changed in that regard in 30-odd years. I hope that the countries of Eastern and Western Europe take the opportunity that has been provided by the somewhat warmer relationship between East and West and the initiatives that are being taken around the world, by both the general communities of non-aligned countries and the less militaristically-inclined countries, to seek solutions to the world's problems and to those that face Europeans on their doorstep. I hope that the forces of NATO and the reactions on some of the issues that were put to us by some representatives of NATO will be tempered. We all hope for a safe and secure Europe and we hope that such safety and security will not be built upon an escalation of arms and confrontation.

I congratulate the leader of our delegation, the honourable member for Lindsay (Mr Free), for his very astute, considerate and elegant carriage of his duties. A finer leader no one could wish for. I recommend that in the long distant future, when he is old and grey and ready for retirement from this House, he be considered for a high diplomatic post, because he carried off his duties so well. The Court of St James, perhaps, would be very fitting; but we will have to talk to former Senator McClelland about that. I agree very much with his statement today and congratulate him again on his presentation of the report. I add my appreciation of the hospitality, cordiality and consideration given by the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Commission in regard to our specific interests in various policy areas and to the discussions we were able to join in with the different policy groups, government groups and political groups.

I add my thanks to His Excellency Mr Ove Jull Jorgensen, the Head of Delegation of the Commission of European Communities, and Mrs Jorgensen. I also thank His Excellency Dr Hans Schauer, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Australia, and Mrs Schauer for their hospitality, friendliness and assistance, which made this delegation a very memorable event for me.