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Wednesday, 17 April 1985
Page: 1186

(Question No. 56)

Senator Missen asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 28 February 1985:

(1) Does the 'Program for Cultural Co-operation', a cultural agreement entered into by the USSR and Australian Governments on 19 December 1984, refer to an academic exchange program between Leningrad University and Melbourne University when, in fact, the exchange program operates with Monash not Melbourne University.

(2) Was the document referred to in (1) above, as is apparent from errors, its language structure and other intrinsic evidence, in fact drafted by Soviet Russian sources.

(3) Was any advice sought by the Australian Government from Australian citizens with experience or backgrounds in Soviet areas as to the proposed terms of the agreement.

(4) Is the Australian Government aware that the agreement, with its detailed requirements for promotion of the Russian language, has given great offence to the 400,000 Australian citizens of Ukrainian origin and other national and cultural groups who have suffered under Russian imperialism.

Senator Gareth Evans —The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The document signed on 19 December 1984 was a program of cultural co-operation between Australia and USSR for the years 1985-86. This was in accordance with the basic cultural agreement between Australia and the USSR signed on 15 January 1975. The current program, to which the question refers, follows very closely both in substance and expression the previous programs agreed between the two countries, covering the years 1976-78 and 1978-80. In respect of the four specific questions:

(1) No. While an exchange program does exist between Monash and Leningrad University, the University of Melbourne is also interested in arranging an exchange program between itself and a Soviet university. The purpose of the Cultural exchange program is to embrace arrangements already existing between universities, and to encourage future exchange arrangements, of which Melbourne University hopes to become part.

(2) The text of the current program derived very largely from the wording of previous programs, with both sides introducing modifications or new proposals to cover the current period. Following detailed negotiation, the text of the agreed program, in both the English and Russian languages, was signed on 19 December 1984.

(3) Normal procedures were followed before, and during, the negotiation of the program, namely consultation with a wide range of governmental, semi-governmental and private bodies with interests in developing cultural and educational relations between Australia and the USSR. These bodies included, for example, the Australian Vice-Chancellor's Committee, the International Cultural Corporation of Australia, Michael Edgley International, and Musica Viva, plus major art galleries, film bodies, the Australian Ballet and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.

(4) The provision for mutual promotion of national language in the other country is consistent with provisions contained in the 1978-80 program concluded in Moscow between the Australian and Soviet Governments on 28 March 1979. It is also consistent with the provisions of the cultural programs Australia has with other countries for which language training is relevant.