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Friday, 24 August 1984
Page: 361

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs to a question asked, I suspect two days ago, by Senator Maguire in respect of whether or not the Australian Government had been invited to visit Nicaragua to observe the elections that are to take place there in November of this year, a question which is all the more relevant since in the last 24 hours all the Opposition coalition parties have been outlawed, which of course means that they are denied access to the media.

Senator Cook —Is this a question or a speech?

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —If you will let me finish--

The PRESIDENT —Order! Will the honourable senator ask his question?

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —I am seeking to do it as quickly as I can, sir. With respect, as long as I am interrupted by ratbags opposite, it is all the more difficult.

The PRESIDENT —Order! Will the honourable senator ask his question?

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —Inasmuch as those democratically elected Opposition parties have now been outlawed, their materials have been censored and they are no longer allowed to have political meetings or rallies, I ask:

Government senators-Hooray!

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —You poor peasants!

The PRESIDENT —Order! The honourable senator will ask his question or I will ask him to resume his seat.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —I ask: Was the Federal Australian Government invited to visit El Salvador to observe the elections there when President Duarte was elected? Did it accept that invitation? In the event that it did not accept that invitation, will it use the same guidelines and yardstick in making the determination and judgment as to whether it will participate in an observer capacity in the elections in Nicaragua?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I am afraid that after all that I am going to have to disappoint Senator Crichton-Browne by saying that I have before me no current information which would enable me either to supplement the answer I gave to Senator Maguire or to answer Senator Crichton-Browne's excursion into the affairs of El Salvador. I will refer the question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and get an early reply.