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Friday, 1 May 1987
Page: 2443

Mr HOWARD —I refer the Minister for Foreign Affairs to his well publicised visit to New Zealand earlier today. I preface my question by expressing to him and to the Government, on behalf of the Opposition, our gratitude for the briefings that have been made available by the Foreign Minister to me and to the Opposition spokesman on foreign affairs. I simply ask the Foreign Minister whether he will assure the House that at an appropriate time this House and, through this House, the Australian public will be provided with any information that is relevant to Australia's security position arising out of the matters that were canvassed during his visit, to the degree that the Government regards as appropriate. I end my question by saying to the Minister and to the Government that matters relating to Libyan activity and any associated matters are of joint concern to both sides of this House. It is the desire of the Opposition, I know-the Liberal Party and the National Party-that, as far as possible, an intelligent bipartisan approach should be adopted.

Mr HAYDEN —I welcome the statement of the Leader of the Opposition that there is bipartisan support for concern on this matter. I would have expected it, but the confirmation is reassuring. It is true that the visit to New Zealand was an unadvertised one. All I can say is that to get the sort of response I got from the media when I got back from an unadvertised visit I will be looking for a huge rally next time I advertise a visit to some other place.

There was considerably less in the visit than apparently was suggested by some of the more agitated minds that were commentating on it this morning in media outlets-at least according to the reports that I have received. The visit was arranged several days ago. It followed extensive consideration by a Cabinet committee on regional matters and, most particularly, intrusion from outside influences into regional affairs. It was recognised that these would be matters in relation to which New Zealand would have common concerns and, indeed, a considerable fund of information. The New Zealanders have had a much more extensive and much longer experience in the South Pacific than we have had. Accordingly, the opportunity was taken by me to go to New Zealand this morning. The 3 a.m. departure was not one of delightful choice, but it seemed to be necessary if I was to get there, complete talks and get back here for Question Time. I miss Question Time sometimes. When I am in the country I prefer to be here when Question Time is on.

Mr Hawke —You would not miss it for quids!

Mr HAYDEN —The Prime Minister seems to think it is the best entertainment in town and therefore I should not miss it for quids. Hence the time which was chosen. More than that, I will go on Sunday to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development conference. It had to be done this week.

Other matters, of course, were discussed in New Zealand-in particular, the upcoming South Pacific Forum conference. It was necessary for ministerial discussion to take place because the conference is being held a couple of months earlier than normal and a great deal of work has to be compressed decisively into a very short period. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development conference, too, came up. Essentially we discussed concerns about developments in the South Pacific, arising from outside intrusions-most notably those of Libya. The New Zealanders and the Australian representatives led by me had an extensive exchange on these matters. Our presentation followed very much the presentation which I provided last night for the Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Menzies as the spokesman on foreign affairs for the Opposition. As both would recognise, a great deal of material there is highly classified and at this point it would not be appropriate for me to say any more than that. I assure honourable members that the Government is keenly alert on this matter and is maintaining a constant overview of it. I also assure honourable members that the Prime Minister is maintaining a particularly vigilant attitude on this matter.