Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 9 May 1961

Mr IAN ALLAN (Gwydir) - by leaveThis year's meeting of the InterParliamentary Union Council, known as the spring meeting, was held in Geneva between the 3rd and 9th April. The Australian group was represented by Senator J. Armstrong and myself. Prior to the meeting, I visited the offices of the British Group in London and the permanent secretariat of the union in Geneva, in order to establish contact with some of the members and officials of the organization. The meeting itself was held in the Palais des Nations, the old League of Nations building, and it was attended by some 200 delegates from 60 countries.

Proceedings began with consideration of draft resolutions and memoranda which had earlier been submitted to the executive of the union. The documents had been volunteered by a number of national groups, and referred to topics which came under one or another of five headings. These headings represented the five permanent study committees, the first dealing with political and disarmament questions, the second with parliamentary and juridical matters, the third with economic and social matters, the fourth with cultural affairs, and the fifth with problems relating to the non-self-governing territories.

Since it was necesary for at least two study committees to be sitting simultaneously, Senator Armstrong and I were compelled to separate for much of the time, and to compare notes as the opportunity offered. This system worked quite satisfactorily, but it was at times difficult to follow the thread of a particular debate from one day to another. Another problem arose when I was appointed to a drafting committee dealing with non-self-governing territories. However, in the final two or three days, when the draft resolutions were returned to the study committees, and when these resolutions went on to the full council for ratification, the Australian delegation was able to make several modifications and minor amendments.

The agenda eventually approved for the next full conference of the union, which is to be held at Brussels between the 14th and 22nd September, is as follows: -

1.   The Way to Peace: (a) principles which should guide States in their mutual relations for eliminating international tension and preserving peace; (b) methods of reinforcing the United Nations so as to consolidate its work in the maintenance of peace; (c) principles governing the political development of non-self-governing territories so as to lead them towards independence and democracy through the elimination of colonialism.

2.   Effects on world trade of the policies followed by the regional economic communities.

3.   Parliamentary control of international organizations.

4.   The evolution of countries in process of development: (a) the strengthening of international assistance in the economic sphere so as to promote the growth of underdeveloped and newly independent countries; (b) problems of education and of vocational, scientific and technical training in countries in process of development.

The main impression which I carried away from this meeting was that it is regarded very highly indeed by the Communist bloc countries as a means of influencing opinion in the newer democratic States. With the achievement of independence by a number of African and Asian peoples in the last few years, the balance of voting power, both in the United Nations and in this parliamentary assembly, has moved towards these newer countries. It seemed evident to me that the Communist group at the union meeting was making a strong bid to sway this vote in its favour, both because of the propaganda value of a favorable vote, and because support for a Communist argument by a parliamentarian could be worth more than support coming from any other quarter. If my judgment is right, then it is plainly necessary for

Australia, through its representatives in the union, to play a full part in the proceedings of this organization, and do what it can to preserve the integrity and stability of the independent countries. It would perhaps be an advantage for the Australian group to submit its own proposals to the executive of the Union for debate at the next council meeting in 1962. In so doing, Australia could be in a position to play a more active role than in the past, and state her own national viewpoint more forcefully.

Again, I think it would be most useful if Australia were to issue an invitation to the Inter-parliamentary Union Council to hold its next spring meeting in Canberra. It would be out of the question to stage a full conference here because there is not nearly adequate accommodation for the 800 or so delegates who attend that function. However, a council meeting would be well within our compass, and the value of bringing parliamentarians from the four corners of the world to our country for a debate on world issues would surely off-set the small cost it would entail.

The Inter-parliamentary Union is an organ for influencing opinion in the parliaments of the world through the exchange of ideas. It claims credit for having laid the foundations for the League of Nations, the International Court of Justice and the United Nations. It is now in its fiftieth year of existence, and appears to be as vigorous to-day as it ever was in the past. Since the Communist countries regard it as a valuable propaganda medium, each of the democracies must also prize it as a means of re-inforcing and extending the way of life which gives dignity, hope and freedom to the individual.

Suggest corrections