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Wednesday, 12 September 1984
Page: 887

Senator PETER BAUME —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Was the Ambassador for Disarmament, His Excellency Mr Richard Butler, brought back to Australia to participate in a debate at the recent Australian Labor Party Conference?

Government senators-No.

Senator PETER BAUME —Did he in fact participate in any ALP Conference debates?

Government senators-No.

Senator PETER BAUME —Did the Australian Government pay his return travel costs between Europe and Australia at that time and his expenses while he was in Australia, particularly during the time of the ALP Conferences?

Government senators-No.

Senator PETER BAUME —Finally, were any officers of the Australian Public Service enlisted to participate in the ALP Conference and were public funds used to pay either for travel or daily allowances for any of these officers?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I do not have a detailed briefing in front of me on this matter, but with the assistance that I have been deriving from my colleagues during the the question I think I can answer with a reasonable degree of confidence in the negative on every one of those points. My understanding is that Mr Butler came back to Australia recently for departmental briefings and consultations with a number of peace and disarmament groups around the country, which is part of his responsibility. While he is wearing that hat he has a responsibility to consult and liaise with them. It is my understanding that he was not in the country at the time of the ALP Conference and he certainly did not participate in any debate. As to the circumstances of funding his return and so on, I think that question is no longer remotely relevant in the light of the information I have just given, but if there is any outstanding question that justifies a further answer I will ensure that it is given.