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Thursday, 27 September 1973
Page: 1639


Mr DALY (Grayndler) (Minister for Services and Property and Leader of the House) - Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?


Mr DALY - Yes. I claim to have been misrepresented in a report on the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting in London which appeared in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' on Saturday, 22 September 1973. I seek leave of the House to incorporate the article in Hansard.


Mr SPEAKER -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -

DIPLOMATIC VICTORY

Parliamentary Assn changes LONDON, Friday. - Australian parliamentarians claimed a diplomatic victory in London last night after getting unanimous support for changes in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

They claimed the changes would give Australia more chance of being elected to the organisation's most influential body - the executive committee.

The acting leader of the Australian delegation. Dr A. J. Forbes, proposed the changes at a private meeting of 160 delegates from 94 national State and Provincial Parliaments.

In a heated session last weekend, the delegates rejected more sweeping changes proposed by the then delegation leader, the Federal Minister for Services and Property, Mr Daly.

An Australian source said today that Dr Forbes had adopted a "less abrasive" approach and had persuaded delegates to adopt compromise measures.

The Australian State Parliaments opposed the changes sought by Mr Daly, but supported those of Dr Forbes.

Under the changes, to apply from next year, each of seven world regions will elect two delegates to the executive committee, instead of one as at present.

At the same time, the meeting decided to abolish the posts of three extra committee members, at present elected on a complicated rotating basis.

Mr Dalywanted the world divided into five regions, each divided into two further areas, with one committee member from each area.

One of these areas would consist solely of the Australian Federal Parliament and the six State Parliaments.

Mr Dalyclaimed that the Australian Federal Parliament ultimately should have a permanent representative on the executive committee - a point many other delegations refused to accept.

The Australian State Parliaments opposed Mr Daly'smove because they felt it was the first step to overshadowing them in the organisation.

They agreed with Dr Forbes because they were to remain on an equal footing with the Federal Parliament in a wider region.

The first part of the article states-

Australian parliamentarians claimed a diplomatic victory in London last night after getting unanimous support for changes in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

They claimed the changes would give Australia more chance of being elected to the organisation's most influential body - the Executive Committee.

The acting leader of the Australian delegation, Dr A. J. Forbes, proposed the changes at a private meeting of 160 delegates from 94 national, State and Provincial Parliaments.

In the first place, it was not a 'private meeting' in the real sense. It was a meeting of 160 delegates but was the general meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary association at which Dr Forbes moved his proposals. The article then said:

In a heated session last weekend, the delegates rejected more sweeping changes proposed by the then delegation leader, the Federal Minister for Services and Property, Mr Daly.

This was the General Council meeting, attended only by general councillors and was closed to the public. I did not propose more sweeping changes but submitted precisely the same proposals as those later put to the general meeting by Dr Forbes. The position is this: The Australian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association submitted certain proposals on the subject of representation on the Executive Committee, which it was felt would give more appropriate representation to the Australian Branch. The Australian Branch proposals were considered by the Executive Committee of the general council of the CPA and a compromise proposition was recommended. This compromise was known to the Australian Branch before the departure of delegates to the Conference and on arrival in London it was accepted by the delegation on behalf of the Australian Branch. I ask leave to incorporate in Hansard the report of the Executive Committee and the proposals.


Mr SPEAKER - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -

REPORT FROM THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE GENERAL COUNCIL ON THE AUSTRALIAN BRANCH PROPOSALS

The Executive Committee gave preliminary consideration to the Australian Branch proposals at its meeting in Grand Gayman, and appointed a Subcommittee to consider them in London in July. The Executive considered the Subcommittee's proposals at its meetings last week-end, and at a further meeting today, and now reports to the General Council as follows:

The Executive Committee, while agreeing that the Australian Branch proposals are most carefully prepared and documented, is of the opinion that since the CPA's Constitution was extensively revised less than two years ago - a process in which all Branches had the opportunity of actively participating - it would be better not to initiate further changes until those agreed upon at the meeting in Kuala Lumpur in 1971 have had a chance to work their way through the system.

Nevertheless, since the Australian Branch proposals are before the Council, and will come before the General Meeting in the form of proposals to amend the Constitution, the Executive Committee feels it incumbent to comment on these proposals one by one.

Increased State/ Provincial Branch Representation on the General Council

The Executive Committee recognizes the active role which many State/Provincial Branches play in CPA affairs, and the substantial financial contribution which many of these Branches make to the Association's central budget. It appreciates that the proposed increase in representation on the General Council will add little if anything to the cost of meetings of that Council since additional Councillors would be drawn from Members already chosen to attend the Plenary Conference as Delegates,

None the less, the Executive Committee notes that the proposal would breach the principle of parity between independent countries, unitary and federal, large and small, alike, which has always been a feature of the composition of the General Council.

If, however, the General Council feels that this objection is not over-riding, it is a matter for it to decide.

Clause 19 Councillors

The Committee is aware that appointments under Clause 19 are increasingly regionally motivated, and this development is in fact now embodied in the Constitution. If, therefore, changes are to be made to the Constitution, the Committee agrees that the deletion of Clause 19 is on balance desirable, subject to the penultimate paragraph of this Report.

Increased Regional Representation on the Executive Committee of the General Council

The Executive Committee finds unacceptable that increased regional representation should be achieved by a contraction of the present Regions from seven to five. If, therefore, any change is to be made, the Executive proposes that the existing seven Regions should in future appoint two representatives each to the Executive Committee, except that that Region within which the Honorary Treasurership is located shall have only one regional representative. Each Region shaft continue to nominate its representatives by methods of its own agreed determination, for endorsement by the General Council.

This proposal has the effect of increasing the size of the Executive Committee by six, but if Clause 19 is deleted, and the Immediate Past President ceases to be a Member of the Executive Committee, the increase in membership would be reduced from six to two.

The Committee emphasises, however, that its views regarding the structure of the Executive Committee must be seen as a whole, and that an increase of Regional representation is conditional on Clause 19 being deleted and on the Immediate Past President ceasing to be a Member of the Committee.

The Committee further proposes that only if both Regional Representatives from any one Region are unable to attend a meeting of the Executive Committee would that Region have the right to appoint one alternate.

Time-table

Without attempting to prejudge the decision today of the General Council, it would seem that here are strong arguments in favour of any changes approved coming into operation next year and not this year.

Firstly, in this report it is emphasized that Regions should continue to select their Regional Representatives by their own chosen methods of determination. If the changes are to come into effect this year, we should in effect be running contrary to this doctrine, because we would be making inevitable the choice of the additional Regional. Representative by delegates here not necessarily fully representative of their Regions, e.g. in the African Region the Branches in Malawi and Zambia are not represented here; in the Caribbean, the Guyana and Montserrat Branches are not represented.

Secondly, if constitutional changes are to be made this year, the General Council can do no more than recommend these for the Annual General Meeting next week, because until then the old Constitution will still be in effect. At best this would mean that as we could not assume what the AGM would do we should have to call another meeting of the General Council afterwards, as only then would we be in a position as a Council to implement any changes, with particular reference to electing additional Regional Representatives.

NINETEENTH COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY CONFERENCE

Australian Constitutional Proposals

The Commonwealth of Australia Branch Delegation desires to notify Delegates that at the 18th General Meeting it proposes:

1.   To move (in accordance with Agenda item 4(b)) that Clause 19 of the Constitution be omitted, and that such omission take effect from the conclusion of the 1974 General Conference in Sri Lanka. (Inherent in this proposal for the abolition of Clause 1 Councillors is the complementary proposal to strengthen the regional representation on the Executive Committee of the General Council. This the General Council may do without constitutional amendment.)

2.   If Clause 19 be omitted, the Delegation will accordingly propose the following motion:

That this meeting requests the General Council to change the structure of the Executive Committee so that:

(a)   the existing seven regions shall, in future, nominate two representatives each to the Committee, except that that region within which the Treasurership is located shall have only one regional representative, and

(b)   each region shall continue to nominate its representatives by methods of its own agreed determination, for endorsement by the General Council, and

(c)   the Immediate Past President shall cease to be a Member of the Committee.'

It is not intended to proceed with the other amendments notified.

N.   J. PARKES

Secretary, Commonwealth of Australia Delegation 18 September 1973

At the General Council meeting the compromise proposals of the Executive Committee of the General Council were circulated and on behalf of the Australian Branch I moved that they be adopted. The resolution was prepared by the secretary of the delegation, Mr N. Parkes, the Clerk of the Parliament, and vetted by Sir Robin Vanderfelt, the SecretaryGeneral, and I ask leave to incorporate in Hansard the motion that I moved.


Mr SPEAKER - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -

1.   That the General Council approves the proposals of the Commonwealth of Australia Branch for increased State/Provincial and recommends to the Annual General Meeting that the proposed amendment to Clause 18 and Annexure 'A' of the Constitution be adopted. 2. (a) That the General Council approves of the proposal of the Commonwealth of Australia Branch for the abolition of Clause 19 Councillors and recom mends to the Annual GeneralMeeting that the proposed amendments of Clauses 18, 19 and 20 of the Constitution be adopted, and

(b)   That the General Council approves the recommendations of the Executive Committee with respect to the proposals of the Commonwealth of Australia Branch for increased Regional representation on the Executive Committee of the General Council and recommends to the Annual General Meeting that appropriate amendments of Clause 33 of the Constitution be adopted.

Much to my surprise, only one or two members of the Executive Committee supported their own compromise proposals and several voted against the motion. In fact, the then Chairman of the Executive Committee, who I understand had drafted the compromise proposals, in the final stages of the debate in effect disowned his own executive's compromise resolution. I think honourable members will agree that it is difficult to get a motion through on that basis. The General Council delegates then voted to defeat the report of their own Executive Committee, or, in other words, their own compromise resolution was rejected although I had moved its acceptance on behalf of the Australian Branch. The article then goes on to say:

An Australian source said today that Dr Forbes had adopted a 'less abrasive' approach and had persuaded delegates to adopt compromise measures. The Australian State Parliaments opposed the changes sought by Mr Daly, but supported those of Dr Forbes.

These statements are completely false as I put forward the proposals reasonably and tolerantly and they were the same proposals as those later put forward by Dr Forbes. Subsequently, a few days later - for reasons best known to themselves - the general meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, including all those who voted against the proposals at the General Council, made an about-face and unanimously adopted and supported proposals that it rejected some days earlier. The article then went on to say:

Mr Dalywanted the world divided into5 regions, each divided into two further areas, with one committee member from each area.

One of these areas would consist solely of the Australian Federal Parliament and the 6 State Parliaments.

This is not correct. It was never moved by me as it had been agreed to accept a compromise resolution of the Executive Committee of the General Council, the adoption of which I moved as agreed upon. The report is not only a misrepresentation of my actions but it is also false and inaccurate and gives the wrong impression of events at the conference.

I might summarise my comments by saying that the motion submitted by the Australian Branch and the compromise accepted were designed in the hope that the Australian Branch would not have to wait about another 20 years before being represented on the Executive Committee. It may be only a coincidence, but it does seem strange that a resolution moved by a member of the Australian Labor Government is rejected and yet the same resolution is unanimously accepted a few days later by the same delegates when moved by a Liberal member of the delegation. One can only wonder whether the resolution would have been accepted at the General Council had I moved it again. I thank the House.







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