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Thursday, 11 October 2012
Page: 7970

Senator KROGER (VictoriaChief Opposition Whip in the Senate) (11:57): I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 974 standing in my name for today relating to diplomatic relations with Thailand before asking that it be taken as formal.

Leave granted.

Senator KROGER: I amend the motion, omitting the figure '400,000' in paragraph (e) and substituting the figure '800,000', and seek leave to make a short statement before I ask that the amended motion be taken as a formal motion.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute, Senator Kroger.

Senator KROGER: Thanks, Mr Deputy President. This amendment reflects a phone call that I received only last night from the office of the foreign affairs minister, Senator Bob Carr, and the office indicated that they would support this motion if I changed the figure. The figure of 400,000 was actually ascertained from the DFAT site. When we went to have a look at the actual figure yet again yesterday, we saw that the figure had actually been taken down and when we tried to ascertain the accuracy of the figure they gave us, which was 800,000, we could not do that directly from the DFAT website because there was no figure on it and we could not do it from the minister's website because there was no indication of the figure, as with the smartraveller website. The only document that indicated that there was a figure close to 800,000 was in a speech that the Governor-General made, which I think reflects on the accuracy of the department and the foreign minister himself. I move the motion, as amended:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that 2012 is the 60th anniversary of established diplomatic relations between Thailand and Australia;

(b) acknowledges the close and wide-ranging relationship between Thailand and Australia, which has developed over the past 6 decades;

(c) notes Thailand's contribution to global peacekeeping efforts, particularly during the International Force for East Timor operations in East Timor, where the Royal Thai Armed Forces provided the second largest number of troops after Australia;

(d) recognises the importance of the relationship in forums such as the Cairns Group;

(e) acknowledges that over 800 000 Australians travel to Thailand each year; and

(f) supports efforts to maximise relations and connections between the two nations, particularly through the creation of cultural study centres at key universities.

Question agreed to.