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Tuesday, 6 March 1984
Page: 437

Senator BOLKUS —I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the recent decision of the Marcos Government to prevent Filipino poet , Cirilo Bautista, from attending Writers Week in Adelaide last week and part of this week-a decision which had been made on the basis of one of Bautista's poems published earlier this year as a tribute to the assassinated Opposition leader in the Philippines, Benigno Aquino. I ask the Minister whether it has been brought to his attention that a message of protest against this decision, directed at the Marcos Government, has been signed by over 30 leading writers from 12 countries who are currently in Adelaide. In the light of these actions, can the Minister say whether the Australian Government will be making representations to the Marcos Government in support of the poet Bautista and his right to leave the Philippines?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I have seen Press reports that, as Senator Bolkus said, the Filipino poet Cirilo Bautista has been denied permission to leave the Philippines to attend Writers Week at the Adelaide Festival. The Department of Foreign Affairs provides assistance for one overseas participant to attend Writers Week. The Department's involvement extends only to the provision of an economy class return air fare. On the advice of the organisers of Writers Week, the Department had approved the provision of such a ticket to Mr Bautista in November 1983. Mr Hayden has advised me that he has asked our embassy in Manila to check out the details surrounding the Philippines Government's alleged refusal to allow Mr Bautista to attend Writers Week. Certainly, I expect it will be the subject of further representations to the Philippines Government once the circumstances of that refusal are known.