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Tuesday, 26 August 1980
Page: 683

Mr SHIPTON (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - My question is directed to the Prime Minister and concerns Australia's relations with Britain. Are Australia's relations with Great Britain today an important element of Australian foreign policy? Particularly, does the Government regard the Centre for Australian Studies in London and the work of the Australia-Britain Society in Australia as important?

Mr MALCOLM FRASER -The honourable gentleman obviously has been paying greater attention to the Budget Papers than many other honourable gentlemen. For the first time we are providing a grant to the Australia-Britain Society of $150,000 to enable it to organise a permanent secretariat and to strengthen its organisation in Australia. In addition, we have provided $160,000 a year to pay the academic salaries, travel and other expenses of the Centre for Australian Studies in London which also has been given quite strong support from sources in the United Kingdom. I hope that the Opposition also will be warmly in support of this measure. Small though it is, we regard it as significant.

Over recent years, Australia's trade relationship with the United Kingdom has diminished as a result of Britain's advent in the Common Market. The practical trading links and indeed the defence links with the United Kingdom which had endured throughout Australia's history are much less than they once were. However, this Government regards the continuing closeness of relationships between Australia and the United Kingdom as something of great importance and something to be worked at, especially since many Australians now come from different backgrounds and do not have the Anglo-Saxon background of many older generations of Australians. We believe that both these measures will assist what are essentially private institutions in promoting wellbeing, understanding and close relationship between the United Kingdom and Australia. We think these are causes well worth supporting and I believe they will have the support of the whole House.

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