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Thursday, 1 December 1983
Page: 3235

Question No. 542

Dr Klugman asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 15 September 1983:

(1) Has his attention been drawn to the article on page 31 of the Economist of 27 August entitled 'Even Worse at UNESCO'.

(2) Is he able to say whether the allegations of incompetence, racism and anti- democratic bias are correct; if so, will he reconsider the value of Australia's membership.

(3) What amount does Australia contribute to UNESCO on an annual basis.

Mr Hayden —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes.

(2) The Government has no plans to reconsider Australia's membership of UNESCO. It is aware that criticism has been made of aspects of UNESCO's recent performance, and in this context has expressed its own strong desire to see UNESCO concentrate on practical, useful programs clearly within its own area of responsibility. The Government nevertheless believes that UNESCO is continuing to perform an important role and is carrying out essential work to further international co-operation in the fields of education, science and culture. The secretariat of UNESCO, like that of other specialized agencies, includes persons from many different political, social and administrative backgrounds. This inevitably imposes particular strains and creates situations unlike those encountered in the administration of individual states. While the Government acknowledges that problems may have arisen within UNESCO because of these factors, it nevertheless believes that the UNESCO secretariat contains many persons of high integrity, dedicated to furthering the aims set down in UNESCO's constitution.

(3) Australia's assessed contribution to UNESCO's regular program and budget in 1983 was $US3,604,796.