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Thursday, 4 May 1961


Mr Ward d asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -

1.   How many meetings of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs have been held in each year since the committee was appointed?

2.   Have any sub-committees been appointed by the Foreign Affairs Committee?

3.   If so, what special task has been allotted to each sub-committee and on how many occasions in each year since it was appointed has each subcommittee met?

4.   What fees and allowances are paid to members of the Foreign Affairs Committee or its subcommittees?

5.   Is it the practice to hold meetings of the committee or any sub-committee during the sittings of the Parliament?

6.   If so, do the committee members collect their Parliamentary expenses allowance of £4 per day in addition to their fee as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committe?


Mr Menzies - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   The number of committee meetings in each year has varied between seven in 1954 and 36 in 1959, the average being about 22. 2 and 3. Since early in 1956 the committee has appointed a number of sub-committees as required. The number of meetings held by each subcommittee over this period has varied from one to sixteen, and depends in each case on the scope and continuing importance of the problem under study. Subjects studied by sub-committees prior to consideration in the committee have included disarmament, the Antarctic, extradition, the Colombo Plan, regional economic development, New Guinea and the South Pacific, the future of the United Nations and the future of the Commonwealth.

4.   The allowances payable to members of the Foreign Affairs Committee are the same as those paid to the Parliamentary Standing Committees on Public Accounts and Public Works. The allowance of 50s. is payable to a member for attendance at a committee or sub-committee meeting held at any time other than during the sittings of either House of the Parliament.

5.   Under the terms of reference, the committee and its sub-committees have power to sit during the sittings of the Parliament but seldom do so. However, the committee and its sub-committees frequently hold meetings on mornings of sitting days of the Parliament.

6.   No. See 4. above.

New Guinea.


Mr Menzies s. - On 3rd May, the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) asked a question in the following terms: -

I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question regarding the setting up of United Nations centres in New Guinea. The resolution to set up these centres was sponsored by Burma and was carried in the General Assembly of the United Nations by 70 votes to nil with eight abstentions.

1.   Will the Prime Minister say how Australia voted?

2.   If Australia abstained, what was the reason for this?

I now furnish the following information in answer to the honorable member's questions: -

1.   The Australian delegation abstained from voting.

2.   The Australian delegation abstained for a number of reasons chief amongst which was the view that the Australian Government doubts whether the establishment of a United Nations information centre in New Guinea could be justified at the present stage. The United Nations Information Centre in Sydney at present serves Australia and New Zealand and their trust and non-self-governing territories. It thus operates effectively and well in areas much further removed from Sydney than is the trust territory of New Guinea. The United Nations information centre in Sydney is in close and constant liaison with the Administration of New Guinea to give effect to a programme of disseminating information about the United Nations. As to the text of the resolution itself - although the Australian Government agreed with its real purpose, namely the effective dissemination of information about the United Nations in trust territories - it could not accept certain details of it - namely that the information centre should be staffed by indigenous persons - because the relatively small number of highly trained and educated indigenous personnel who would be needed are required for other, in our opinion, more urgent and vital tasks - in education, health and welfare, agricultural training, research and the like. The resolution also requested the Secretary-General to " take the necessary action " to establish a United Nations information centre in New Guinea. We could hardly be expected to agree to this when we had already informed the Secretary-General that for purely practical reasons, we could not at that stage see the benefit or advantages of setting up an information centre in New Guinea in addition to the centre in Sydney. The Australian delegation, however, assured the Assembly that careful consideration would be given to the views expressed on this matter and that the Government would be prepared to conduct further consultations with the Secretary-General as appropriate.







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