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Thursday, 29 March 1973
Page: 878

Mr LUCOCK (Lyne) - First of all let me refer to the comments made by the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) in relation to the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) who was the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the previous Government. There is really no need for anyone in this House to defend the performance of the honourable member for Parramatta while he was Minister for Foreign Affairs because he not only upheld the position and the prestige of Australia; he also added to his own prestige and stature both at home and abroad while he was the Minister. I support the proposal before the House. I am delighted to see it presented particularly so early in this Parliament. I congratulate the Government on the moves it has made to establish the committee.

I think that the proposal contains improvements on the arrangements for the previous Committee. It is now some little while since I was a member of that Committee. During the term of my membership, unfortunately the Committee consisted of only members of Government parties. That was during the time Lord Casey was the Minister for External Affairs and the honourable member for Chisholm, the late Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes, was the Chairman of that Committee. For a period of time I had the privilege of being the Vice Chairman. I realise the value of the work that was done by that Committee, but I always felt that it was handicapped by the fact that it comprised only members of the Government parties. I think that in the situation at the moment there may be some slight doubt about the matters to be referred to the proposed committee. I notice that matters may be referred by the Minister for Foreign Affairs - this was the case previously - and now by the Minister for Defence or by resolution of either House of the Parliament. I think that this will be of tremendous value. One of the basic advantages is that members of the Parliament will be taken out of the political atmosphere of this chamber. This is evidenced in the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, the Joint Committee on Public Works and a number of other joint parliamentary committees in which members get together in a committee of the Parliament divorced from the political atmosphere of this chamber and I think that they achieve a great deal more than would be achieved if that same discussion and consideration were held in this chamber. I am delighted to see the proposal as presented. I think the Committee can only work to the advantage of both this Parliament and Australia. I do not expect complete and absolute unanimity to be achieved in discussions within that Committee, but there will be certain basic foundations upon which all members of the Committee will be able to agree. I know, from my experience on joint committees that sometimes a difference of opinion has not been between members of opposing parties; there has been an alliance of members of opposing parties relating to the matters which have been under consideration. With other members of my Party, I am delighted with the resolution for the formation of this Committee. I, too, look forward to it working not only to the advantage of members of the Committee and to the advantage of Parliament, but also to the advantage of Australia.

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