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Thursday, 2 September 1993
Page: 873

Senator DENMAN —My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I refer the minister to the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development to be held in Cairo in September 1994. Can the minister inform the Senate of what Australia is doing to prepare for this highly significant meeting?

Senator BOLKUS —I thank Senator Denman for her question. The conference that she talks about is an important one and it will be held in Cairo in September 1994. It will be a major international event and will draw attention, interest and participation from the 184 members of the United Nations. The conference is held only once every 10 years and it is expected to attract enormous international interest.

  This government is treating our participation seriously. Given the breadth and scope of the conference, it is essential that we draw on the widest range of views in preparing for it. For this reason, we have selected a national committee to advise the government on Australia's contribution. I am pleased to have been able to announce that Mr Richard Woolcott AC has agreed to act as chair of the committee. Honourable senators will know that Mr Woolcott is an eminently qualified person for the job, being a former permanent representative to the United Nations and former Secretary to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

  The membership of the committee will reflect the wide range of perspectives which exist in the Australian society on the issues of population and development. Members will be drawn from academia, the business community and trade unions. There will be representatives of non-government organisations such as the CAA, ACFOA, the Family Planning Association, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Worldwide Fund for Nature and the National Women's Consultative Council. As well as ATSIC, representatives from the relevant government departments will also play a role.

  As I said at the outset, this will be an extremely important conference which will attract enormous international attention. The contribution of the members of the preparatory committee that we have appointed will be extremely valuable as that committee addresses conflicts and important issues ranging from the interrelationship between population, development and the environment; the role and status of women and family planning; and internal and international migration to the role of governments and other sectors. The first meeting of the committee will be held later this month. One of the first tasks of the committee will be to advise on the preparation of the Australian position to go to the national conference.

Senator Gareth Evans —Mr President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.