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Thursday, 30 April 1987
Page: 2079

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry to the recent meetings of the Australian Soil Conservation Council and the Australian Agricultural Council which were both held in Queenstown on the south island of New Zealand. Why were the meetings both held in New Zealand, given that the councils were made up of 27 Australians, four secretariat staff, and two observers from New Zealand?

Senator WALSH —I have been asked why the meetings were held in New Zealand. It has been the custom for a very long time-I am not sure how long, but certainly well back into the time of the previous Government-for the Agricultural Council and the Australian Minerals and Energy Council, with which Senator Evans's Department is associated, to rotate meetings between the Australian States, I think the Northern Territory, and New Zealand.

Senator Gareth Evans —And others as well.

Senator WALSH —All the Australian States, New Zealand, and so on.

Senator Gareth Evans —And other councils.

Senator WALSH —And some other councils as Senator Gareth Evans tells me.

Senator Tate —The Health Ministers have that type of arrangement.

Senator WALSH —Interjections are coming from all over the place. Senator Tate tells me that the Health Ministers have the same sort of arrangement, but that is not quite what I was asked. I was asked why they were both held in New Zealand. There might be several different answers to that question since there are several different councils, Ministers and departments involved. My guess is that the belief is that, given Australia's close association with New Zealand in a number of ways, there are advantages in having New Zealand involved in discussions. Under those circumstances it seems to me to be quite reasonable that the location of the meeting should be rotated around the governments which are members of the councils.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —I wish to ask a supplementary question. I ask the Minister: Is it an expenditure of which he approves?

Senator WALSH —Let me put in this way: I certainly approve of it more than I would approve of the $3m to $4m which it would cost if the greedy, irresponsible pay demand of the Australian Capital Territory doctors union were successful.