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Thursday, 26 May 1983
Page: 1100

Mr IAN ROBINSON —by leave-I present the official report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to Hungary and Bulgaria. I seek leave to make a short statement in connection with the report.

Leave granted.

Mr IAN ROBINSON —The Australian delegation to the sixty-ninth Inter- Parliamentary Union conference, held in Rome, to which I referred earlier was privileged to be invited to visit, as a delegation from this Parliament, Hungary and Bulgaria. I had the honour to lead that delegation. The visit to Hungary was the second by an Australian parliamentary delegation, the first having taken place in July 1978. In the meantime, a Hungarian parliamentary delegation visited Australia in October 1981, and a trade delegation visited in March 1982. Bulgaria had not previously been visited by a parliamentary delegation from Australia. An interest was expressed by representatives of that country in making a return visit to Australia and I know an official invitation has been extended. I hope that the visit will occur in the not too distant future.

The delegation considered that the purposes of its visits were, particularly, to foster friendly and mutually beneficial relations between Australia and the host country, to demonstrate Australia's interests and goodwill, to achieve a better understanding of the political and economic structures in both countries and to develop a greater awareness of their implications, and to gain first hand insights into the social and cultural conditions prevailing in the countries. The program in each country was quite rigorous for the delegation because of the short time available. Its success owed much to the generous and hospitable manner in which we were received and to the warmth, friendliness and unfailing consideration that greeted us wherever we went. Though unable to meet with heads of state because of their commitments, we were afforded the opportunity of meeting with Ministers, senior parliamentary officials, district and civic dignitaries, government officials and the representatives of industry. As a consequence we were able to engage in a wide range of discussions.

As a parliamentary delegation undertaking such a program, we depended greatly on the assistance of a great number of people from our Department of Foreign Affairs representation in that part of Europe and of those who had liaison with the countries that we visited to enable us to make the best of the opportunity. Without their efforts the success of the visits could not have been assured. Due acknowledgment is given in the body of the report and I emphasise again the importance of our gratitude to all concerned. Finally, I wish to express my own appreciation to the members of the delegation for their strong support and co- operation throughout the visit.