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Monday, 30 March 1987
Page: 1485


Senator HAMER —by leave-I table the report of the delegation to the European parliamentary institutions and to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1986 and seek leave to make a brief statement in relation to the report.

Leave granted.


Senator HAMER —In September 1986, a delegation of both Houses of the Australian Parliament visited Strasbourg to attend the autumn sittings of the European Parliament and the Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe. The delegation also made an official visit to the Federal Republic of Germany and visited Brussels to confer with officials of the European Commission and the Council of Ministers of the European Community. Whilst in Brussels the delegation also visited the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The report tabled today records the official activities of the delegation and makes recommendations and suggestions which should be useful for future delegations. The delegation's visit to the Federal Republic of Germany was the first made by an Australian parliamentary delegation for many years. An excellent program was arranged for the visit by our hosts in liaison with the Australian Embassy in Bonn.

In the ten days of the visit the delegation travelled widely and saw a great deal of the Federal Republic of Germany, from Keil and Bremen in the north, to Stuttgart and Baden Baden in the south. The delegation's itinerary included meetings with Federal parliamentarians in Bonn and visits to four of the Republic's State parliaments. The delegation also visited the HDW shipyards in Keil. It is one of the contenders for the Australian submarines contract. An official visit was also made to Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm in Bavaria, a company involved in the manufacture of high technology products.

The delegation valued the opportunity to meet with many leading Federal and State parliamentarians from a sister democracy. Special mention should be made of the delegation's meetings with Dr Philipp Jenninger, the President of the Bundestag, and with the deputy presiding officers of four State parliaments. The delegation's report includes details of the many discussions held with European and West German politicians and officials.

Agricultural issues inevitably dominated many of the discussions held with our European counterparts and with officials of the institutions of the Community. Nevertheless, other important topical issues were also discussed. These included nuclear power, terrorism, the South African situation, the world economy and youth unemployment. Details of these discussions may be found in the report. An issue which assumed major importance during the 1985 delegation's visit to Strasbourg was the culling of kangaroos. This issue was not emphasised and as far as I can remember it was not mentioned during the 1986 visit.

The delegation's discussions on agricultural trade and the European common agricultural policy indicated that European politicians and officials are aware of the adverse consequences of the CAP. The great majority consider that there is a need for reform. There were, however, no grounds for optimism that reform would be achieved quickly. On the many other issues discussed with our European counterparts, there was a considerable amount of agreement. There was, for example, some indication of prospects for increased trade and closer economic relations between Europe and Australia.

The delegation wishes to thank our hosts in the Federal Republic of Germany. Particular thanks are due to Dr Jenninger, President of the Bundestag, and the protocol staff of the Bundestag, in particular Mr Walter Von Den Driesch who accompanied us throughout our visit to Germany, joined in all our activities, and towards the end of the trip was developing a slight but pleasing Australian accent. The delegation also thanks the staff of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, which so ably assisted the delegation during its visit to Strasbourg and Brussels. The delegation also wishes to thank representatives of the Australian Government in Brussels and Bonn for their organisation and briefings. On behalf of the delegation I also express our appreciation to the parliamentary relations office for its efficient organisation, and to officers of the Parliamentary Library for their comprehensive briefing papers. I should also like to thank the Secretary to the delegation, Mr Terry Brown, for all his unobtrusive hard work.

Finally, I express my personal thanks to the leader of the delegation, Mr Ross Free, who handled the visit with experience, patience and fairness, and to all the other members: Mr Alan Griffiths, Mr Bob Halverson, Mrs Ros Kelly, Mr Roger Shipton, and Mr Peter Staples. Despite the fact that we were of varied political persuasions, we were able to present a united Australian position on every question as it arose.