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Tuesday, 7 May 1985
Page: 1485

Senator TATE(10.48) —I rise very briefly to discuss an international youth conference which is being hosted in China to which an Australian delegation will be sent next week. The aims of the conference are to celebrate the International Year of Youth, provide a framework and role for youth in issues relating to peace and development, and develop peace and understanding amongst countries of the region. I emphasise that the emphasis within those three aims is to be given to issues relating to peace and development. Therefore, it is something of a surprise to learn that of the 10 Australian delegates two are from the Office of Youth Affairs, one is from the Youth Affairs Council-I think it is the Chairman, and that is fair enough-one is from the Orange City Council and six are from Circus Oz. As I understand it, the delegates from Circus Oz, the Office of Youth Affairs and the Orange City Council are going to organise a visit to Australia by Chinese kite makers and puppeteers. The visit of these Chinese primarily will be to the Orange City Council region in order to provide a program of assistance in skill generation amongst people in that region in making kites and puppets.

The fact is that we know that Circus Oz has already established good links with Chinese performing groups. I recall seeing on television a Chinese troupe which was out here in association with Circus Oz. I am sure that those links should be fostered. But the question is whether they should be further nurtured at the expense of others who could well have found a place in this delegation to the youth conference in China. One has to ask whether that delegation of 10, given that composition, is truly representative of the wide range of young people who could have been sent to this conference representing the aspirations, hopes, plans, schemes and experience of young people right across the board. That seven of the 10 current delegates should be from such a narrow base within the Australian community and those interested in youth affairs seems to me to be a very wasteful use of government funds.

It seems to me that the structure of the Youth Affairs Council itself recognises the utility of consulting with a very wide range of groups of people who are actively involved in youth affairs in Australia. They include looking to workers with youth, youth organisation representatives, State youth representatives because the States are where a lot of this activity occurs, and youth itself. It is unbelievable to me that an event of such significance should not have looked over the whole span of those four categories of people involved with young people and sent to the People's Republic of China such a narrowly based group of people for this important conference. In fact, I believe that the delegation should not be sent next Monday but that it should be reconstituted so that it is much more representative of young people across Australia, particularly as the emphasis is to be on peace and development issues.

It is very difficult to see how the troupers of Circus Oz, given the many hours of training they have to undertake to make their bodies supple in order to perform the gymnastic and other activities which they undertake for the delight and delectation of those who see their performances, could have found time to concentrate on peace and development issues and make a really distinctively Australian contribution to that international forum. I beseech the Government to reconsider whether in fact, knowing that in China a sense of shame and face is very important, there may not be some embarrassment in sending such a delegation so composed to China and whether we should not save face now by preventing that delegation from going next Monday and reconstituting it in a way in which we can all share in the pride of young people making a contribution in this important international forum.