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Wednesday, 2 February 1994
Page: 198

Senator REYNOLDS —I direct my question to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Senator Bolkus. Will the minister detail the significance of the symposium in Germany this week comparing the Australian and German experience of immigration and multiculturalism?

Senator BOLKUS —Mr President, as did my colleagues yesterday, I congratulate you for your ascension to the post. Senator Reynolds asked a question about the symposium being held in Berlin on the Australian and German experiences on immigration and multiculturalism. I thank her for the question.

  The Senate will recall that late last year I informed this place that plans were under way for a symposium which would not only compare immigration and multiculturalism in Germany and Australia but also offer Australia a welcome opportunity to showcase our policies in Europe and these particular areas. I am pleased to say that the two-day symposium is being held in Berlin tomorrow and in Potsdam on Friday, 4 February. It has generated a great deal of interest in the German community as well as amongst the European-based Australian media.

  The symposium is to be called the Australia Day symposium. In terms of the German interest in the forum there will be at least 120 people attending. The German speakers will include Brandenburg's minister for the interior, Mr Alwin Ziel, the Berlin commissioner for foreigners, Frau Barbara John, and representatives of Germany's Turkish, Polish and Jewish communities.

  On the Australian side, we are taking this symposium seriously. Papers will be presented by the director of the Bureau of Immigration, Population and Research, the Australian ambassador, Mr John Bowan, and the first assistant secretary of my department, Mr Des Storer.

  Presentations are intended to give an overview of our migration policy in Australia, the merits of planned migration programs, migrant settlement services, citizenship and our development as a multicultural nation.

  I am pleased to say that there is growing interest in Europe in Australia's experiences in these areas. This symposium is very much a follow up to the official visit I took to Europe last year, particularly to Germany where interest in our experiences, the way we plan our migration program, the way that we develop our policies and our settlement programs are of great concern to people in that part of the world.

  Many European countries are grappling with large scale population movements and their effects on the local communities. Australia has been recognised as a leader-pacesetter with much to offer from our experience in this regard. In Germany particularly our experience in multiculturalism in the migration area is something that has been viewed by people in Berlin as an experience worth looking at.

  Meetings such as this can only help to enhance our international standing, contribute to a better understanding of what we are about and provide great lessons to countries in Europe which are now grappling with mass migration.