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Tuesday, 24 June 2003
Page: 17416

Mr Danby asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing, upon notice, on 15 May 2003:

(1) Can the Minister confirm that in letters dated 13 and 21 May 2002 he stated that Australia was favourably disposed to Taiwan being admitted to the World Health Organisation (WHO) with observer status, but would only do so when it was clear a consensus supported such a move.

(2) Would consensus have to include the agreement of the People's Republic of China; if so, is the Minister able to say whether this is likely to be forthcoming.

(3) What other organisations or entities, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, or quasi states, already enjoy observer status and did Australia support their accreditation to the WHO as observers; if so, how did Australia explain its support for these organisations or entities.

(4) Has the speedy spread of the SARS epidemic in Taiwan and the possibility of continued cross-infection between China and Taiwan via the busy cross-Strait trade and travel made the admission of Taiwan as an observer to the WHO even more urgent than before.

(5) Will the Government, at the commencement of the meeting of the WHO in Geneva on 28 May 2003, move to join the recent statements of the Japanese government, the European Union, and the United States Congress and the bi-partisan private member's resolution moved by the Member for Fairfax and seconded by the Member for Lilley supporting the admission of Taiwan to the WHO as an observer.

Mr Andrews (Minister for Ageing) —The Minister for Health and Ageing has advised that the Minister for Foreign Affairs will answer the honourable member's question.