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Monday, 30 March 1987
Page: 1692

Mr FREE —by leave-I present the report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the European Parliamentary Institutions and the Federal Republic of Germany and seek leave to make a short statement in connection with the report.

Leave granted.

Mr FREE —Mr Deputy Speaker, I present the report. In September 1986, a delegation of both Houses of the Australian Parliament visited Strasbourg to attend the autumn sittings of the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The delegation also made an official visit to the Federal Republic of Germany and visited Brussels to confer with officials of the European Commission and the Council of Ministers of the European Community. Whilst in Brussels the delegation also visited the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The report tabled today records the official activities of the delegation and makes recommendations and suggestions which should be useful to future delegations. The delegation's visit to the Federal Republic of Germany was the first made by an Australian parliamentary delegation for many years. An excellent program was arranged for the visit by our hosts in liaison with the Australian Embassy in Bonn. In the ten days of the visit the delegation travelled widely and saw a great deal of the Federal Republic of Germany-from Kiel and Bremen in the north to Stuttgart and Baden Baden in the south. The delegation's itinerary included meetings with Federal parliamentarians in Bonn and visits to four of the Republic's State parliaments. The delegation also visited the HDW shipyards in Kiel. Honourable members will recall that HDW is one of the contenders for the Australian submarines contract. An official visit was also made to Messerschmitt-Blohm in Bavaria, a company involved in the manufacture of high technology products. The delegation valued the opportunity to meet with many leading Federal and State parliamentarians from a sister democracy. Special mention should be made of the delegation's meetings with Dr Philipp Jenninger, the President of the Bundestag, and with the deputy presiding officers of four State parliaments. The delegation's report includes details of the many discussions held with European and West German politicians and officials.

Agricultural issues inevitably dominated many of the discussions held with our European counterparts and with officials of the institutions of the Community. Nevertheless, other important topical issues were also discussed. These included nuclear power, terrorism, the South African situation, the world economy and youth unemployment. Details of these discussions may be found in the report. An issue which assumed major importance during the 1985 delegation's visit to Strasbourg was the culling of kangaroos. This issue was not emphasised during last year's visit.

The delegation's discussions on agricultural trade and the European common agricultural policy indicated that European politicians and officials are aware of the adverse consequences of the CAP. The great majority consider that there is a need for reform. There were, however, in September 1986 no grounds for optimism that reform would be achieved quickly. On the many other issues discussed with our European counterparts, there was a considerable amount of agreement. There was, for example, some indication of prospects for increased trade and closer economic relations between Europe and Australia.

The delegation wishes to thank our hosts in the Federal Republic of Germany. Particular thanks are due to Dr Jenninger, President of the Bundestag, and the protocol staff of the Bundestag, particularly the protocol officer who accompanied the delegation during its time in Germany, Herr Walter Von den Dreish. The delegation also thanks the staff of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, who so ably assisted the delegation during its visit to Strasbourg and Brussels. The delegation also wishes to thank representatives of the Australian Government in Brussels and Bonn for their organisation and briefings. On behalf of the delegation I also express our appreciation to the Parliamentary Relations Office for its efficient organisation, and to officers of the Parliamentary Library for their comprehensive briefing papers. I would also like to place on record the delegation's thanks to Dr Hans Schauer and Mr Ove Jull Jorgensen, representatives in Australia respectively of the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Community, for their assistance before the delegation's departure and their friendship on its return.

Finally, to the delegation itself: I know that all delegates would want me to express their appreciation to the Secretary to the delegation, Mr Terry Brown, whose patient and constant efforts ensured that all the arrangements were made and worked smoothly. To my fellow delegates-Senator David Hamer, who served with distinction as deputy leader of the delegation, the honourable member for Canberra (Mrs Kelly), the honourable member for Casey (Mr Halverson), the honourable member for Higgins (Mr Shipton), the honourable member for Jagajaga (Mr Staples) and the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Griffiths)-I express my personal thanks for their friendship and forbearance during our time away. This was a large delegation drawing its members from both the Labor and the Liberal parties. The fact that delegates were able to support a united Australian position on each and every issue as it arose in the many discussions we had is a tribute not only to their fine personal qualities as parliamentarians but also to the wisdom that their respective parties displayed in selecting them to serve on this important delegation.