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Wednesday, 26 June 1996
Page: 2270

Senator ELLISON(4.10 p.m.) —The visit by the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee to China at the invitation of that country I believe was somewhat ground breaking at the time. I do not think a Senate committee had been beyond the Pacific at the invitation of a foreign country. I went along much as the junior senator, if you like, on that trip. There were others much more experienced than I in matters relating to China. I refer to the chairman, Senator Gerry Jones, Senator Baden Teague, who has a very longstanding interest in China, Senator West and Senator Bryant Burns. I believe that visit really proved to be the foundation on which this seminal report was constructed.

At the outset, I would like to thank Paul Barsdell, the committee secretary, for his work over the last three years. Paul Barsdell travelled with us to China and then assisted the committee in the writing of this report—and the report has been three years in the making. Indeed, I was a member of the committee when Senator Jones was chairman. I was then off it for a period whilst Senator Woods was chairman, and then I came back on it whilst Senator Forshaw was chairman. I believe that indicates just how much time has gone by during the making of this report.

Senator Jones did a remarkably good job in China as our chairman. I also pay tribute to his wife, Rita, who contributed in a significant way to the work of the committee. I remember the Australia-China Chamber of Commerce referring to how useful it was to have a spouse on the trip. We picked up another dimension, as it were. One of the aspects we did not pick up readily was the loneliness of expatriates working in China and the problems that confronted them in relation to their family and their being so far from home.

As I stated, this is a seminal piece of work. It covers a whole range of issues. A great deal of it deals with the economic relations and the social and cultural ties. The committee does not shy away from any of the more sensitive aspects dealing with human rights issues, such as Tibet, the one child policy, orphanages—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! The half hour allowed for this debate this afternoon has expired.

Senator ELLISON —I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.