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Thursday, 27 August 1981
Page: 864


Mr CHARLES JONES —by leave-At this point I congratulate the leader of the delegation, the honourable member for Berowra (Dr Edwards) on his election as the Australian representative on the executive on the Inter-Parliamentary Union. It is a position which I believe the country, not the person, holds; at the same time the honourable member for Berowra did a good job as the leader of the delegation in the conduct of affairs of the IPU over the last three years. I believe it bears out the point that I have been making, both in the Parliament when reports have been dealt with and in the executive of the IPU, that there has to be some form of continuity of representation, at the IPU, both from the Government and from the Opposition, it should not just be a hit and miss arrangement. We should do what a lot of other countries are doing: They have almost permanent delegates there who establish credibility to represent their countries. The honourable member for Berowra has very rightly drawn attention to the fact that the IPU is the second largest international organisation of its type and, as far as parliamentary representation is concerned, it is the largest organisation of its type. Representatives from different countries meet, talk, debate, argue and put forward different points of view concerning the issues confronting the world today.

No longer do the delegates regard the meetings as a jaunt. If they go they should go prepared and should put forward a certain point of view. The Australian delegation is probably unique in the sense that the honourable member for Berowra and other members from the Government represent their party and we represent the Opposition in this place and we put forward our point of view on certain issues. There is nothing more positive than the case of the resolutions regarding East Timor which I moved expressing my point of view and the point of view of the party of which I am a member. As a result of putting that point of view-it may sound a little strange-the decolonisation bloc put me on the drafting committee. I believe I was instrumental in stirring up the Portuguese delegation to the point of openly and positively supporting the argument for the right of independence and self determination of the people of East Timor. The Government had a contrary point of view. This is what astounded the delegates. I spoke and put forward a positive point of view for the decolonisation and the right of self determination. The representative of the Government then put the Government's point of view. This is what they could not understand. I think one of the things that is lacking from the IPU is the right of members of one delegation to put forward contrary points of view. It is interesting to note that the United Nations is still putting pressure on Indonesia to grant the right of self determination to the people of Timor. That is in line with the point of view that I have been putting. I also note in the delegation's report to the United Nations on the Western Sahara Polisario Front that this is a matter in regard to which the leader of the delegation and I put forward different points of view. I draw the attention of the honourable member for Berowra to the fact that his Government is now supporting the Polisario Front in its right to self determination in the Western Sahara dispute.

This conference enables members of the same delegation attending the meeting to express differing points of view. I think it should be continued. I would hate like hell ever to think that this Parliament would restrict the right of an individual to put a certain point of view at the conference. I found the conferences most interesting. It afforded members the opportunity to talk to other people and hear other points of view. For example, the Irish delegation used to present a point of view on the situation in Northern Ireland and the British delegation used to defend what had been going on.

This type of matter is raised from time to time as a side issue. I asked that a matter about Socialist International be included in the report; I note that it was not. My party is a member of Socialist International, which used to have at every conference a dinner or a luncheon at which prominent members of Socialist International would be in attendance and in which a welcome would be extended, particularly by the home State, to all the visiting delegates. It is interesting to note the situation in the German Democratic Republic, as it calls itself, when permission was sought-I was one of the delegates who sought permission-to hold a meeting of Socialist International in the Parliament building in East Berlin in which the conference was being held. In all the other countries in which we had met these meetings had been allowed. Permission was refused on this occasion. In straight-out defiance of this refusal we met. Admittedly this meeting had to take place in a public place-in a tea room that was normally available to members. We let it be known loud and clear what we were going to do. We met there and talked about things concerning the various democratic socialist countries and unanimously carried a resolution condemning the actions of the South Korean Government in its persecution of Kim Dae Jung, the socialist Opposition leader in that country. These sorts of things go on when delegates are permitted to attend conferences such as the IPU and to mix with parliamentarians from other places. This gets results, as was shown in the case of Singapore and the persecution of people who claimed to be members of Parliament.

I support the contents of the report and again congratulate the leader of the delegation for his election to the executive. As he said, it was a team effort to achieve that. I thank you, Mr Speaker, for permitting the delegation to extend an invitation to the body known as the nine-plus-it is now the 10-plus-to hold its pre-spring meeting in Australia. Even though we have internal differences of opinion on minor matters, we are in fairly close agreement on the overall issues. It is important for a body such as the 10-plus to continue to meet. The delegates who attend such meetings have a job to do in the preparation and planning of such meetings. We know what happened on one occasion when the meeting did not take place. Quite frankly, we were a rabble until such time as the nine-plus got together and started to talk about tactics to counter the Russian bloc, which is the only way to describe it. The Russians certainly dominate it. Whatever they want is what the others fall in line with. I thank you, Mr Speaker, on behalf of the delegation, for extending the invitation to the meeting in Canberra. Admittedly, the previous delegation of which I was a member extended the invitation, but at least the meeting was held here this year.