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Tuesday, 25 November 1986
Page: 2686

Senator McINTOSH —by leave-I would like to join my colleagues in thanking our hosts for their hospitality. I certainly enjoyed every day I spent in the Soviet Union and Poland. I was very pleased to be a member of the parliamentary delegation visiting the Soviet Union and Poland in June and July of this year. This was not my first visit to the Soviet Union; I was there 10 years ago. This was the first time I had visited Poland. The report of the delegation is a fair recollection of the findings of the delegation, and I commend the report to the Senate.

I would like to make just a couple of brief reflections. Some members of the delegation had a unique opportunity to meet independent peace movement people in Moscow who were not involved in the official peace movement in the Soviet Union. It is no secret that the possibilities for open dissent in the Soviet Union are limited. This group of people had questioned their Government's increasing reliance on nuclear power and called on their Government, in a positive way, to look for other forms of energy generation. Those people made it quite clear to us that they were not against their Government but they wanted it to look at other sources of energy. They had demonstrated on this and had been charged with anti-Soviet activities, but they were able to use the Soviet judicial system and have their actions considered by the courts on much less drastic charges. I thought this was a most significant development because I doubt whether some years previously they could have used the judicial system in the manner in which they are using it today. I concur with Senator Sanders and say yes, there are changes, and I for one perceive many changes there.

I would like to make a comment on human rights in the Soviet Union. The delegation at every opportunity raised human rights issues with the Soviet officials. It is true to say that the inquiries were not always entirely welcomed, but we were heard out, there is no doubt about that. I can say that the people who initiated the human rights questions were from the left wing of our Party. It is very easy to gain applause in this country for being prepared to raise in the Soviet Union the question of human rights. But there are enormous pressures operating against similar questions being raised against so-called friendly countries in our region. Instead, we are asked to excuse the unacceptable behaviour in those countries as being the result of cultural differences. I believe that justice and human rights everywhere are essential to the achievement of peace. Peace will be achieved only when we are prepared to ask the hard questions of our friends as well as of those who seem to be regarded by some as enemies.

I would like again to thank the Soviet Union and Poland for their hospitality. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay there. I certainly learnt a lot in both countries, and for this I am grateful.