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Monday, 5 March 2001
Page: 24892

Mr ADAMS (12:36 PM) —It gives me great pleasure to rise to make some comments about the visits that we had on this trip. The leader of the delegation, the honourable Mr Forrest, has pointed out some of them. I was certainly impressed with the long and rich history of Hungary and the enormous strides they have taken since 1989 in rebuilding a free market economy. Our program was wide and we covered many topics and issues. We met many officials from many different departments. In education, they are making strides; they seem to split their education into technical skill development and academic development, the sort of thing we are looking at with our vocational training in several areas. They have had a historical direction down this track.

They have challenges: a lot of inflation, strong domestic demand and a forecast rise in commodity prices. We were able to speak to them about their entry into the European Union, which is of great interest to Australia. They have always been interested in supporting the opening up of trade markets. They were very keen to look at this and to move along in that direction. Of course, they said they were now seeking entry to the European Union and, therefore, they would be bound by the rules that applied if they became a member.

The visit to Szolnok dealt with the Tisza River, where the poison that was put into that river in Romania came. Of course, the Hungarians had to deal with that. We did a full press conference there, which I thought the leader handled very well, as well as several other questions that came to us. I do not think the Hungarian people blame the Australian people for anything and I think it was a very good exercise. We also learnt a lot about how the Hungarians shift their water about in their rivers—particularly as we grapple with some of our salinity problems and the need to pull state governments together to deal with our river systems and our catchment areas. In places like Central Europe they are dealing with river systems and catchment areas which cross over sovereign borders and they need to deal with those issues.

We laid several wreaths for martyrs to the cause of the country, especially some during the Second World War, for example, Wallenberg who was a Swedish diplomat who played a role in saving many people from the Nazi gas chambers. That was really worth doing. Another significant thing was to visit the park. When regimes fall, usually most of the statues are pulled down and destroyed. The Hungarians have taken all their large statues of Lenin and other local people to a park area, which is not very well kept, but they have set them up in this park and you can go and visit it and see a lot of the last era's statues. Perhaps in the future it will become a major attraction in Budapest. I certainly enjoyed the goulash soup, which the Hungarians lavished on us on many occasions. I was very fortunate to come back with a very good cookbook from Hungary.

Poland was also a very interesting visit. Of course, there is a great connection between the Polish people and the Australian people. In Tasmania, we have had migration from Poland post war, and many Polish immigrants helped us build our hydro schemes.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Lyons's time has expired. I am, however, conscious that the member for Chifley is unable to be here and the debate does not need to conclude until 12.45 p.m. I would be happy to extend a minute's grace to the member for Lyons, if that would be helpful, and a similar facility to the member for Mallee.

Mr ADAMS —Thank you, Mr Speaker. Meetings with the friendship groups of Poland and the Polish parliament provided an excellent opportunity to exchange views, to lunch with them, to speak with them officially and unofficially about parliamentary democracy in their country and in ours, and to exchange ideas and views. I was very keen to talk to them about regional policy in the east of Poland where difficulties occur similar to ours—regional people trying to compete and trying to deal with the loss of population and the difficulties of getting technology. Those sorts of issues came to the fore. So it was a very worthwhile visit.

We also had a very good visit to a wool scouring enterprise in Poland. Hopefully, because of the links that Poland has had in the broadest sense in the wool industry in Eastern Europe in the past, it may be able to come to the fore in using Australian wool into the future. Overall, it was a very successful visit and I have great pleasure in supporting the tabling of the report.