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Thursday, 5 December 1985
Page: 3028


Senator McINTOSH —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Can the Minister advise the Senate on the current status of the Antarctic Treaty following its consideration by the United Nations General Assembly recently? What importance does the Government place on the continued viability of the Treaty?


Senator GARETH EVANS —I am able to advise the Senate that three resolutions on An- tarctica were adopted in the first Committee of the United Nations General Assembly three days ago on 2 December. They call, among other things, for the United Nations Secretary-General to update his study on Antarctica, and for the Antarctic Treaty consultative parties to report on their negotiations to establish a minerals regime and to exclude South Africa from Antarctic meetings. These resolutions attracted around 80 positive votes on each. About 35 states did not participate in the vote and an equal number absented themselves. With one or two exceptions, parties to the Antarctic Treaty did not participate because of the failure of Malaysia and its friends to adhere to the tradition of consensus in the handling of the Antarctic item.

The vote was very satisfactory from Austra- lia's point of view. Notwithstanding our objections to elements of the resolutions, the principal resolution did contain formal recognition by the General Assembly of the Antarctic Treaty system, and we regard this as very positive. For the future, we hope that the poor result they obtained will persuade Malaysia and its friends to seek consensus next year. The Antarctic Treaty is important to Australia and we hope that Malaysia, as a close regional friend, would take account of that. It is also important to the world, as a successful instrument for disarmament and peaceful co-operation.