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Thursday, 10 March 1966

Mr ADERMANN (Fisher) (Minister for Primary Industry) . - I present the following paper -

Report of the Delegation from the Commonwealth of Australia Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to the Eleventh Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference held in Wellington, New Zealand, in NovemberDecember 1965. and move -

That the House take note of the paper.

The report which I have just presented relates to the visit of the delegation from the Commonwealth of Australia Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to the Eleventh Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference which was held in Wellington, New Zealand, during November and December of last year. The delegation comprised Senator Marriott and Senator Poke and the honorable members for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon), KingsfordSmith (Mr. Curtin) and Scullin (Mr. Peters), and myself as leader. I am sure I speak sincerely on behalf of all members of the delegation when I state that each of us was highly honoured to represent the Parliament at this quite notable conference. Over 70 branches of the C.P.A. were represented at the Conference by more than 130 delegates and observers and this in itself provided an exceptional opportunity for parliamentarians from all parts of the Commonwealth to make contacts, form friendships and generally to get to know each other better.

The Conference met at a time of considerable tension within the field of Commonwealth relations as, only a short time before, the Rhodesian Government had issued its unilateral declaration of independence. As delegates gathered for the Conference, many African representatives publicly demanded strong action to suppress the rebel Government. It was clear that the action of the Smith Government was condemned on all sides and, by a unanimous decision, the Rhodesian Branch was expelled from the Association. It was also decided that the whole of the first day of the Conference should be devoted to the question of Rhodesia, although this was not provided for in the provisional agenda for the Conference. In a debate in which many forthright speeches were made, strong demands were made, particularly by African delegates, for the use of force, but these were with equal emphasis resisted by United Kingdom and other delegates.

The Conference, on this occasion, was extended to cover twelve sessions which were held on seven days and its discussions ranged over an agenda of subjects of vital interest to all Commonwealth countries. The report which I have just presented deals broadly with the Conference discussions. The full text of the speeches delivered should be available shortly from the General Council Office of the Association and I would commend its persual to honorable members.

The report of the delegation also deals with the meetings of the General Council and the General Meeting of the Association at which two important matters were submitted on behalf of our own Branch. Honorable members will recall that, at the 1964 meetings in Kingston, Jamaica, preliminary consideration was given to proposals submitted by our delegation for an increased scale of parliamentary visits. These proposals were again submitted at the Wellington meetings and were, on resolution, agreed to in principle and referred to the Secretary-General for development in consultation with all branches. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association has a very special role to play in the preservation and development of relations between Commonwealth countries and there is, I think, a growing realisation of the importance of inter-parliamentary visits in the furtherance of this role. The acceptance of the branch proposals was, therefore, gratifying and we confidently look forward to their successful development in the future.

The second major proposal put forward by the Branch related to the administrative functioning of the General Council. With the rapid increase in the number of main branches, the Council has become a most unwieldly body for management purposes. We have therefore proposed, in a preliminary way, the formation of a subcommittee of top level councillors to manage Association affairs between conferences. This suggestion from Australia was well received and its submission in positive form at the meetings this year could well be acceptable.

All honorable members appreciate, I am sure, the important role which the Association can play in maintaining the links which bind together the various nations of the Commonwealth. The Australian Branch has, I think, taken an active and constructive part in the activities of the Association, a continuance of which will do much to preserve the ties which bind us within the Commonwealth. I personally valued very greatly the opportunity of participating in the Conference in Wellington and of meeting the large number of interesting and diverse personalities who attended. New Zealand, the host Branch, spared no effort to make our stay in that wonderful country an enjoyable one, and to that Branch we express our sincere gratitude.

In conclusion, I should like to pay tribute to my colleagues in the delegation and also to Mr. Norman Parkes, who was its secretary. At all times my fellow delegates cooperated fully in the function of ably representing the Branch and participating in Conference discussions.

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