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Tuesday, 26 November 1985
Page: 2240


Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE(3.55) —I wish to take a moment to add to the words of Senator Colston, to the extent of thanking him as the leader of the Australian Delegation to the Seventy-third Conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union for the quite outstanding contribution he made at the Conference. I commend his diplomatic and skilful negotiation, patience and goodwill in very trying circumstances. Notwithstanding the fact that he fell ill during the Conference, he laboured long and hard during that illness to maintain good cheer and a soothing influence upon all of us and upon the Conference generally. His contribution to the Ten Plus group was significant and I am sure was recognised by all other members of that group. I join with him also in thanking Tom Wharton, the Secretary to the Delegation, for his diplomacy, dedication and application in ensuring that those sometimes delinquent delegates attended all sessions of the Conference. I also thank Peter Hooton, the adviser to the Delegation from the Department of Foreign Affairs, for his wise and thoughtful counsel, particularly given that a number of resolutions were minefields through which we all had to tread, particularly in respect of South Africa and the Middle East.

It was only after I arrived in Togo that I realised why my name was the only one from our side of the Parliament on the notice board and why there was no major ballot. Looking at Togo's Budget, I can see why tourism does not make up a large part of its gross domestic product. In conclusion, I refer to page 3 of the report, which states:

It was disappointing but perhaps inevitable that national groups took inflexible and in some cases politically extreme stances thereby establishing a less than harmonious atmosphere for debate. Also, delegates frequently confined themselves to rehearsing the official positions of their governments rather than using the international Parliamentary podium of the IPU as a means to seek new and innovative solutions to the world's problems.

That was not the case on the part of the Australian delegation. I believe that we debated the issues fairly, honestly, impartially and with absolute integrity. That in no small measure was the result of the contribution our Chairman made. I hope that at future meetings of the Ten Plus group it is able to ensure that the level of debate is more pragmatic and realistic, and less dogmatic. Regrettably, it seems to have been a feature of past IPU conferences that various states have taken quite extreme views and have not been prepared in any way to compromise to the point where there may be generous, general and reasonable consensus.

Question resolved in the affirmative.