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Wednesday, 14 October 1964


The CHAIRMAN - Senator Tangney, just before you start, I would ask for the co-operation of the Committee in. trying to stick a little bit closer to the Estimates than we have done up to this point of time.


Senator TANGNEY - 1 hope to do so but I would like to preface my remarks by saying that the Department of External Affairs is a very important department because it represents the whole image of Australia as it is presented to the world; I would like to congratulate a fellow Western Australian, Mr. Hasluck, on being the new Minister in charge of this Department because he is the first Minister in the history of the Liberal Government who has had this portfolio only to discharge. With his background I am sure he will give the portfolio more attention than has been possible by previous Ministers who have had also to administer other very important portfolios.

Honorable senators will notice that the total expenditure of this Department is very large. In some sections it is larger this year than it was last year. We do not cavil at that at all because it indicates that the stature of Australia in external affairs is growing, [t is very difficult, I think, to separate the Department of External Affairs from the Department of Defence in some cases. They are so interlocked at times that one becomes a part of the other. I would like to pay tribute at this stage to the many officers of the Department of External Affairs who serve us abroad. Last year it was my good fortune to be a member of a Parliamentary delegation that visited various parts of the world and in each of them I found that the officers of the Department were only too ready and willing to assist.


Senator Cormack - Mr. Chairman, I rise to order. I do not wish to be ungallant. but would the honorable member confine herself to an element of the Estimates that we can readily identify?


Senator TANGNEY - I am coming to the subject of expenditure on our embassies in some of these countries. I notice in Division No. 173, for instance, that we have just established an embassy in Austria.' When I was there last year there was no Australian embassy in Austria at all. The work that should have been done there by our diplomatic representative was being done by officials of the Department of; Immigration. I think we owe a debt to those' officials in the Department of Immigration who are carrying on work at the present time that should be done by officers of the Department of External Affairs. I agree with the increased expenditure in this Department as far as establishing the embassy in Vienna is concerned.

I regret that there is no embassy in Yugoslavia. I think that this is a very important place and I think that we should have an embassy there. If honorable senators look down the list in the estimates they will find that there is no representative of the Department stationed in Yugoslavia. I mention this fact, not because it is a country with a Communist Government, but because it is a country from which we have for many years drawn so many migrants who have become excellent citizens. Long before World War II we had many Yugoslav people coming to my own >State of Western Australia, setting up industries, going into areas where other people would not go and establishing market gardens and vineyards and so on. There is a very big Yugoslav population in Australia. There is a Yugoslav Consul General in Sydney and I think, when considering all this expenditure on European embassies, that there is a necessity to establish one in Yugoslavia. Members of the delegation found when we were there, that the work of representing Australia was being done from the embassy of Great Britain. Britain was representing Australia.

Those officials were doing quite a good job as far as they knew it but what do they know about Australia? They have not been to Australia and they do not know about Australian conditions. At that time it could have been difficult for Australians in Yugoslavia because arrests had been made for the illegal entry into Yugoslavia of some men who had been in Australia. I would like to say, in all fairness to the Yugoslav authorities, that they invited representatives of the Government and the Opposition to a conference to talk the matter over with them and to see what the actual position was and to see the evidence that they had. Those officials were very fair. They were very anxious that the image that was being built up in Yugoslavia of Australia as a good place for young men to settle and to build up their homes, should not be destroyed in the minds of the Yugoslav people by this unfortunate incident. I would like to see, as I say, more of the money for this Department concentrated on establishing some kind of direct representation in a country with which we have so many ties, particularly when we consider the vast number of Yugoslavs who have settled in Australia and who arc, in the main, very worthwhile citizens. Further on in the same group we come to Ireland. I refer to Division No. 184. For a long time there was a disagreement, just on a" technicality, between Australia and Ireland with regard to representation in the two countries. I would like to say again that our representative in Ireland, before the raising of the status of our embassy, was doing a magnificent job. When re-classifying these offices I hope that the men who have done this good work will not be overlooked. Just reverting to Austria for a moment, I found that the official from the Department of Immigration who was doing this work had no diplomatic status. He could not even park his car in front of his office without the good graces of the Viennese police because he had no diplomatic immunity. He had no diplomatic allowance, yet during the week that I spent in Vienna he had entertained more than ten visiting Australians at his own expense in his own home. 1 think that these men who do these things are not doing it for any personal gain - they do not get anything out of it themselves - but do it in order that the image of Australia abroad can be maintained.

I notice in the Estimates that quite a number of the embassies and diplomatic posts we have established abroad arc in South East Asian countries. That is all to the good because, after all, we ourselves are a South East Asian country geographically speaking and establishing embassies in these countries is one way of gaining better understanding with them. As I say, it links up much better with our defence policy if We have people on the spot who can really interpret Australia's point of view and can give us active reports of what is happening in those places.


Senator Cormack - What estimates arc we on?


The CHAIRMAN - Is the honorable senator taking a point of order?


Senator Cormack - Yes. I thought there was an understanding between the Government and the Opposition that we confine ourselves to the Estimates. I could not follow the honorable senator. She has moved from Vienna to Dublin without any reference at all to the lines of the Estimates.


The CHAIRMAN - Honorable senators will remember that prior to the commencement of the debate on these estimates I asked for their co-operation in an endeavour to keep a little more strictly to the estimates than they had in the past. Senator Tangney first of all dealt with Vienna, then she dealt with Ireland, and now she is dealing with the Department of External Affairs in Divisions Nos. 145 to 240. She has not identified the particular division about which she is speaking, but she is still speaking of the Department of External Affairs. 1 ask the honorable senator as far as she possibly can to keep to the amounts of money that we propose to spend on particular items. We are getting all over the place. I do not want to curtail the debate at all. We arc discussing the proposed expenditure on certain items, and I ask the honorable senator to continue on that basis.


Senator TANGNEY - I am sorry if I am not making myself clear to Senator Cormack. It is rather difficult on the spot to try to add up the amounts of money which arc being spent in all of the South East Asian countries. The money that is being spent in those countries is being well spent. I would not mind if more money was being spent because if we are getting value for the money, it is money well spent. I am certain that we are getting value, judging by the calibre of the people who represent Australia in those countries. 1 come now to Division No. 207 - Permanent Mission to the United Nations. We are increasing our expenditure from £84,570 for last year to £106,000 for this year, and if we add to that amount the administrative expenses of £35,900, it makes a total of £141,900. We are increasing our expenditure at a time when the work of the United Nations is much more complex because of the admission of more and more nations to the Organisation. We have seen recently the emerging nations of Africa, which are entering into full nationhood, becoming members of the United Nations. The Australian Labour Party maintains that support of the United Nations is an integral part of Australia's foreign policy. We must give un swerving loyalty to it and to its agencies. We must try to ensure that the Charter of the United Nations is fulfilled, and that border disputes which could lead Australia to war and which could lead the world into a great conflict if they are not resolved are brought before the Organisation. Therefore, we agree with the expenditure on the United Nations as set out in the estimates.

I would like to see more and more members of Parliament being given the opportunity to see the United Nations at work, t would like to see more and more members being given the opportunity to visit other countries, in some of which we have representatives, in order to broaden their horizons. I am sure they would all come back feeling as 1 have that we in Australia have very little to grumble about because Australia is a land which has so much to offer. We are opening our doors to many people from underdeveloped countries. There is quite a lot more that we can do in this regard. I refer now to Division No. 165, sub-division 6, item 13, Earthquake relief - Yugoslavia. Last year we donated £10,000 towards this relief.







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