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Thursday, 1 December 1960

Mr McCOLM (BOWMAN, QUEENSLAND) - by leave - I present the following paper: -

Inter-Parliamentary Union - 49th Conference held at Tokyo. September-October, 1960- Report of Australian Delegation - and move -

That the paper be printed.

In speaking to this motion, I should like to say, first, I sincerely regret that I have the honour of presenting this report instead of the leader of the delegation, the late Mr. Frank Timson. The report of the Australian delegation states at page 55 -

The Australian Delegation can bear witness to the splendid work which the late Mr. Timson performed both prior to and during the 49th Conference. He was conscientious at all times in the discharge of his duties as Leader of the Delegation and did not spare himself in his efforts to make a valuable contribution to the work of the Union on behalf of the Australian Group.

That is the very sincere opinion of those of us who had the honour of being led by Mr. Frank Timson on that delegation.

Sir, Ihope this report will be studied in some detail by honorable members and that the printing of it will not be delayed. As honorable members will know, Australia has been a member of the InterParliamentary Union for only four or five years - a comparatively short period. Consequently, there is a lack of knowledge about some aspects of the union's work; and arising from that, there is a lack of interest. I believe that Australian membership of the I.P.U. is something that should continue. Some years ago, Canada decided that the Inter-Parliamentary Union was of no particular value to it, and it withdrew from the union. At the last conference, Canada asked for re-admittance. I believe there is a valuable field in which the Commonwealth of Australia can contribute to the union and to international affairs. If honorable members look at this report they will find that reports were presented to the union dealing with the following subjects: -

Primary products - methods of improving the International Distribution System for Primary Products and the relation of their Prices with those of manufactured goods.

Disarmament - Present Problems and Prospects - Future of Parliamentary Democracy in Asia.

On the whole, these reports were very good. They led to interesting discussion and debate; and while it is perfectly true that in some cases some of the member nations used this conference to expound their own political propaganda, it is equally true that great value emerged from the fact that the representatives of so many different nations met together.

There has been some criticism of the I.P.U. on the ground that it could be considered to be coming into the field of work that is being done by the United Nations and there could be duplication of work. To a certain extent, that is true. However, all members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union are not members of the United Nations, and on the other hand all members of the United Nations are not members of the I.P.U. I believe, Sir, that the interchange of ideas between people on a parliamentary level is equally as important as an interchange on an official level at the United Nations. There are not sufficient common meeting grounds for members of the various parliaments of the world. There is a difference between government officials meeting for discussions and members of parliaments meeting and having discussions. AH too frequently, the members of a parliament do not necessarily know what the Government instrumentalities are doing in relation to work in other countries. I believe these meetings do serve a valuable purpose.

I hope the time will not be too distant when Australia will seek the honour of being the host country to a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. That must lie in the years ahead because I do not believe we have the accommodation at present to have a conference of this nature. However, I hope it will be possible soon to make a request that we be the host nation. A very great number of delegates from other countries expressed the hope that Australia would make that request at some time in the future because there is a considerable interest in Australia, particularly among some of our friends in South-East Asia. Many of them would welcome an opportunity to visit our country.

One value of these meetings is that they provide a valuable opportunity to members to go overseas and see other countries. I have said in the House before that, in spite of criticism that has been levelled from time to time, T do not believe sufficient opportunities or facilities are provided for members of this Parliament to go abroad and see what is happening in other countries. I would be completely opposed to any suggestion that Australia should not continue to have an active interest in the workings of the I.P.U.. I believe we should, in. fact, take a more lively interest in it in the future and send more representatives to its meetings.

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