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Monday, 25 February 1985
Page: 167

Mr WILSON —by leave-I present the report of the Commonwealth of Australia Branch Delegation to the Thirtieth Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, Isle of Man, in September-October 1984 and seek leave to make a short statement in connection with the report.

Leave granted.

Mr WILSON —I am pleased to inform the House that the Douglas conference was most successful, both for the Association generally and from the point of view of the Commonwealth of Australia branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. In terms of the Association, the most significant matter was the continuation of consideration of the report of the working party on the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the future. Certain decisions were made by the General Assembly at its meeting in Nairobi in 1983, and remaining matters were considered most thoroughly in Douglas, culminating in the decision of the conference, by an overwhelming majority, to adopt the working party report.

Honourable members may recall that the Commonwealth of Australia branch was heavily involved in the decision to establish the working party and played a major role in its deliberations. Members of the delegation were heavily involved in consideration of the report by the conference. The adoption of the report will be very important for the future of the Association, covering as it does such matters as representation on the executive and means by which savings in expenditure could be achieved in the operation of the Association.

Members of the House should also be aware that the new Chairman of the Executive Committee is the distinguished Speaker of the Indian Lok Sabha, Dr the Hon. Bal Ram Jakhar, who participated heavily in the work of the working party and who is a distinguished member of the Association.

The conference was both productive and enjoyable. It was productive in enabling some 188 delegates and committee members representing 95 branches to debate and discuss a wide range of topical parliamentary, economic, governmental and social issues. I think it could also be said that some delegates came to the conference questioning the value of the CPA or the value of such a conference conducted by it. I think those delegates with doubts who took part in the formal as well as the informal discussions came away from the Isle of Man believing that there is great value in a body such as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, a value that is derived from not only the formal discussions, but also the informal contacts that are made.

In the formal discussions, what I found fascinating-and I believe other delegates found it of interest too-was the great commonality of concern about a large number of issues, a concern common to parliamentarians from countries large and small, from countries of the developed world and the developing world and the undeveloped world, from island state to continental nation. The identification of that common concern was very valuable when we realised that we shared similar interests although we came from such diverse countries.

In addition to the formal discussions, great value was gained by all members of the Australian delegation, as well as other delegations, from their participation in informal meetings with parliamentarians from the countries which I described earlier. I felt very heartened and encouraged by the results of the discussions on the working party's paper and from the feeling of strength that was gained from the discussions between members representing the 95 branches attending that conference. The efforts of the officers of the Isle of Man branch, the members of the Tynwald, the Parliament of the Isle of Man, who participated so wholeheartedly in conference activities, and of the Manx people themselves, all combined in ensuring a particularly enjoyable and fruitful conference. With my fellow delegates, I am deeply appreciative of the generosity and hospitality of our hosts.

I also place on record the appreciation of the members of the Australian delegation for the leadership provided by the President of the Senate, Senator Douglas McClelland, who was the leader of the delegation. He was a significant figure at the conference and enjoyed the respect and friendship of a wide range of delegates and observers. I say without hesitation that the Australian delegation took an active part in the conference debates, in the deliberations of the General Assembly and in those informal contacts to which I have referred. I appreciate the efforts of all my fellow delegates in this regard.

I make one further comment to acknowledge the work of Sir Robin Vanderfelt, for whom this conference might have been his last as Secretary-General of the Association. I place on record our delegation's appreciation of his leadership at that conference as well as, I am sure, the appreciation of many of our predecessors in our recognition of the great services he has rendered to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association at its conferences and to the Australian delegates who have attended them.

Any delegation of six members of parliament relies very heavily on its staff and I take this opportunity to record my thanks and the thanks of members of the delegation to Mr Bernard Wright, a clerk assistant in this House-I am pleased to see he is on duty at this moment in the House-who acted as secretary to the delegation, and to Mr Keirin Schneemann, the regional secretary of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Australian region, who attended the conference as an observer and acted as an adviser to our dele- gation. Their assistance was of great value to all members of the delegation.

I include one other note of thanks. One does not get to a place such as the Isle of Man without an immense amount of organisation, through the booking of air tickets and the making of reservations. The other day, I received a letter from Qantas Airways Ltd to say that Ian Grow has been given other responsibilities and has been moved from the position he has held for some time as the principal officer handling parliamentary bookings on Qantas overseas flights. For my part, and, I think, also for members of the delegation, I record my appreciation for his assistance to the delegation and for his assistance over a number of years to many members of this House and, no doubt, of the Senate, for the work that he did in making our travel arrangements so easy.