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Wednesday, 11 September 1985
Page: 480


Senator TEAGUE(5.41) —I take pleasure in joining other senators in welcoming the statement of the Minister for Trade (Mr Dawkins) made last August prior to his visit to China. I also commend the report on Australia-China trade which was produced by some members of the Senate. This is a bipartisan matter in Australia. I believe that all members of the Senate want to seek to maximise co-operation between Australia and China in developing prospects not only for trade but also for improved general cultural relations in discussions about every matter of mutal interest, including many matters on the agenda for discussion of international relations.

The matter of trade illustrates the way in which throughout the 1970s and 1980s successive Australian governments have built foundation upon foundation so that we now have a quite strong base for considerable expansion in Australia-China trade in the future. The recognition of China, which I as a Liberal advocated in the late 1960s and early 1970s, was brought about by the new Labor Government in 1973. The foundations for better understanding were laid when the first Ambassador, Dr Fitzgerald, went from Australia to Beijing. The achievements of the Whitlam Government became a foundation for the very real enhancement of our relations during the Fraser Government period. Mr Fraser, as Prime Minister, visited China very successfully and he welcomed senior Ministers of the Chinese Government to Australia. During the period of the present Government Mr Hawke has been able to welcome to this country the most senior General Secretary of the Communist Party, Mr Hu Yaobang, and other senior representatives of China. We see in the statement before us that not only has the Minister for Trade gone to China. A number of other Ministers have gone to China-the present Attorney-General (Mr Lionel Bowen), the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Kerin) and others. During the last few months a large number of members of this Parliament have visited China. All this augers well for us to be alert to the opportunities for developing Australia-China trade and every aspect of Australia-China relations.

I emphasise the remarks that my colleague, Senator Watson, made. He said that however open the door is and how ever bipartisan and, indeed, unanimous is the view in this chamber that we welcome the opportunities China presents for Australia and Australia for China, things will not be easy just by stating that. My discussions in China recently lead me to the view that there may well be an average two-year period for the development of any constructive joint venture program between our two countries. We need to work out the technical knowledge and experience we have in Australia and how that can be taken forward with Chinese-like investment and Chinese labour in a program to meet the needs of China. If that hard work is done we have the prospect of seeing Australia-China trade grow to the dimensions of Australia-Japan trade of the last 20 years. We have before us that kind of dramatic prospect. We also have before us the prospect of Australia being involved in building a trade relationship in great contrast to the imperialistic and exploitative relationships of the last century which are too much in the minds of everyone who has had anything to do with China. We want to see that as being entirely in the past. There is a whole new future ahead of us.

Question resolved in the affirmative.