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Tuesday, 4 April 2000
Page: 15216

Mr Latham asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 15 February 2000:

(1) When was his attention drawn to the two-day conference, 'On Cleaning the Parthenon Sculptures', organised by the British Museum at the end of November 1999.

(2) Did the proceedings open with a presentation by William St Clair of his findings following the publication of the third edition (1998) of his book Lord Elgin and the Martles.

(3) Did a Greek team of conservators present their findings to the conference in four linked papers.

(4) Was the Australian High Commission informed of the conference.

(5) Has his attention been drawn to the report of the conference in an article entitled 'Losing the Marbles' in the Times Literary Supplement of 10 December 1999.

(6) Will he and his Department take account of the proceedings of the conference in reviewing the question of the Parthenon marbles.

(7) Is he aware of a submission by members of the Australian Parliament to a committee of the British Parliament on the return of the Parthenon marbles.

(8) Will he or his Department be making a submission to the Committee on behalf of the 300 000 Australians of Greek ancestry.

Mr Downer (Minister for Foreign Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The conference, 'On Cleaning the Parthenon Sculptures', has not been specifically brought to my attention.

(2) l am not apprised of the proceedings the conference.

(3) Likewise, I am not apprised of those proceedings.

(4) There is no record that the High Commission was informed of the conference, but Australian Embassies and High Commissions receive notifications of many thousands of conferences each year.

(5) No.

(6) Successive Australian Governments have consistently maintained the position that the question of the Parthenon Marbles is a matter for resolution by the Greek and British governments.

(7) Yes.

(8) No.