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Thursday, 2 June 1960

Mr HAWORTH (Isaacs) .- by leave - I move -

That the following paper, laid on the table of the House on 25th November last: -

Inter-Parliamentary Union - 48th Conference held at Warsaw, September, 1959 - Report of Australian delegation - be printed.

This report is an account of the most important matters which took place at Warsaw. It is by no means a complete account. The secretariat of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, whose headquarters are at Geneva, will publish later this year a document that covers fully the speeches made at the fortyeighth conference. In view of the fact that the Inter-Parliamentary Union is not as well known as its opposite number, the United Nations Organization, I should like to take this opportunity to say something of its origin, as well as to make some reference to the spring council meeting at which the preliminary work of the annual conference is carried out and the agenda for that conference is completed. Last year the spring council meeting was held at Nice, when Australia was represented for the first time. A report of those discussions was made by me directly to the Australian group. I had the honour of attending, as leader, both the spring meeting and the annual conference of the union at Warsaw. The deputy leader was my parliamentary colleague, the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan).

The Inter-Parliamentary Union, which was founded in 1889, is an association of the elected representatives of the people of all nations who have the right to vote. It is a union of parliaments, as distinct from a union of governments, and in this respect it differs from the United Nations, which is a union of governments. In other ways the Inter-Parliamentary Union conference is like the United Nations, but not too much like it. The decisions of the union are not, and are not intended to be, binding on member nations, and this provokes very frank discussions. The Inter-Parliamentary Union tries to ascertain whether there is any degree of agreement between nations, particularly those with strong ideological differences. In this respect it is unlike the United Nations, where the reverse is true, and differences between nations are emphasized. It is interesting to note, Mr. Speaker, that the Interparliamentary Union conference in September of each year precedes the opening meetings of the United Nations Assembly. Many of the European and Asian delegates attend both assemblies. Observers from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the International Labour Office and the World Health Organization, as well as the personal representative of the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations, attend all council and conference meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

At the spring council meeting in Nice last year, Mr. Toumeoja delivered a personal message to the session from Mr. Dag Hammarskjoeld. He said, inter alia -

Every item on your agenda relates to matters of concern to the United Nations.

The Secretary-General is deeply conscious of the importance - often, indeed, the decisive importance - of national parliaments in supporting the work of the United Nations. He is gratified at the excellent relations which now exist between the union and the United Nations, and trusts that these relations may be strengthened and developed.

Mr. Toumeojawent on to say that InterParliamentary Union meetings were of real importance, both for their practical accomplishments and because of what they represent as a unique form of international contact in our shrinking world.

The spring council meeting is most important because it is at this gathering that the agenda for the annual conference and any alterations to the statutes and rules of the union are drafted. At this meeting, on behalf of the Australian group, I moved an amendment to the statutes for an alteration to the numerical membership of the executive committee of the InterParliamentary Union. The existing rules provided only for eight elected members and the president of the Inter-Parliamentary Council, who is ex-officio chairman. The Australian group felt that in view of the fact that the increase in member nations since 1955 had been so considerable, it would be appropriate for the existing number of executive committeemen to be increased also. The council, after long, contentious discussion, agreed that the Australian proposal should be referred to the political committee for a report at the spring meetings of 1960 at Athens. I have just heard from the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Timson), who is the leader of this year's group, that the council has decided to recommend to the annual conference at Tokyo that the number of elected members of the executive committee be increased by two. In view of the fact that the council is conservative in its approach to any alteration of its statutes, the Australian group feels that it has made an impact on this age-old international organization.

During the 1959 spring council meeting at Nice between five and six study committees sat and deliberated on subjects referred to them by groups all over the world. The Australian delegates, because of their numbers, found it possible to take part on only the Political and Organization Committee, the Committee on Reduction of Armaments, the Economic and Financial Committee and the Committee on Nonselfgoverning Territories. The contribution of the honorable member for Kennedy to the work of the Committee on Reduction of Armaments earned his nomination to the Drafting Committee. The draft resolution which he helped to formulate was placed before the Warsaw conference. On the Committee on Non-self-governing Territories I found myself defending Australia. The criticism was for teaching English instead of native languages in New Guinea schools. It was important for Australia that European, Asian and African nations should be told the facts in regard to our New Guinea trusteeship. I am satisfied, Mr. Speaker, that if we were not present at this council meeting to defend ourselves from such baseless charges they would be considered proved.

Owing to the representatives of Pakistan, Iraq and Sudan having lost their parliamentary mandate, three members were required from the council to fill three vacancies on the Executive Committee. The Australian group nominated me as a candidate for one vacancy, but we were unsuccessful. The candidates elected were from Israel, the United States of America and Iran. The representative from Iran was defeated at the Warsaw conference, while those from Israel and the United States of America were appointed for one and four years respectively. The meeting at Nice lasted six days, sitting for from ten to twelve hours each day.

The Inter-parliamentary Union has fixed the number of delegates that a nation may send to the annual conference, calculated on the basis of population, the size of the lower House of the Parliament and the number of members of the group who belong to the national House. Australia is entitled to send thirteen delegates, but has never sent more than six. Each of the 58 member nations is entitled to send two members to council meetings and one to each Study Committee. At the spring meetings most member countries have a different delegate for each study committee, but as Australia sends only two delegates it is necessary for one delegate to attend several committees. Many of the member nations have permanent secretariats attached to their groups. At both spring meetings and conferences the delegates of these countries are assisted by strong teams of able secretaries and technical advisers.

At the spring meetings the study committees appoint their various office bearers. The period of appointment is for three years. At the Nice meetings I was asked if I would allow my name to be submitted for office. The appointment suggested was president of the Economic and Financial Committee of which I was a member. I had to decline nomination because the Australian group, unlike most other national groups, does not conform to the principle of continuity, each of our delegates being appointed for one year only. However, I did allow my name to be included in the ballot for vicepresident, and was duly elected by a comfortable majority. The purpose of referring to this incident is to direct attention to the fact that unless the Australian group approves some measure of continuity for its delegates between one conference and the next, it will never be able to accept office in the union. This, I believe, would be a great loss for our country because, apart from other reasons, our continued association with the Inter-Parliamentary Union can do much to foster good relations with other countries, particularly with our near neighbours in South-East Asia.

The 48th conference was held at Warsaw from 27th August to 4th September, 1959. The delegation comprised myself as leader, the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) as deputy leader, Senators Vincent and Sandford, the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) and the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). Mr. Loof and Mr. Renouf provided the secretarial assistance. In a country like Poland where interpreters are scarce and where living is difficult, our secretarial team was understaffed and was called upon to sacrifice a great deal of its leisure hours. The Australian secretarial staff was one of the smallest at the conference.

All members of the delegation spoke at the plenary conferences and took an active part in committee work. A full account of their speeches appears in the report. Amendments were proposed to the draft resolution on the subject of the removal of obstacles to international trade. As Australia has always supported measures for the expansion of international trade and for the conduct of international trade by fair trade rules, it was right and proper that we should take an active part in this debate. I am pleased to say that we were able to get the conference to accept our amendments. The amended resolution has been referred to the 58 parliaments of the world for implementation.

I think that I should make special reference to one address which is contained in the report. It is the speech of Mr. Rapacki, the foreign minister of Poland. It was not surprising that he made reference to the regional plan of nuclear disarmament which has become associated with his name. Mr. Rapacki reviewed the sufferings which Poland had undergone as a result of the Nazi invasion and occupation twenty years ago, and went on to outline Poland's role as a socialist State which played, as far as possible, a positive part in easing international tension, bringing about constructive co-existence and ensuring lasting peace. Polish foreign policy rested on international co-operation. However, as Mr. Rapacki stressed, it is difficult to imagine peaceful co-existence without an end to re-armament and an agreement to disarm. It was at this point that the Polish foreign minister turned to the question of partial solutions of the disarmament problem and, more particularly, to his own plan.

He remarked that one of the most realistic of possible solutions was that these problems be solved in the regions bordering on the two main military groups. When making the proposal to create an atom-free zone in Central Europe - Poland, Czechoslovakia, the German Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic - the Polish Government felt that this territory was of particular importance from a political and military point of view, and that the concentration of nuclear weapons in this territory would be most dangerous.

The Polish Government was ready to continue discussing this proposal and to consider all constructive suggestions, as it had done after the broad discussion in the world press of the first stage of the proposal. It continued to hope that its proposals might bring about an increased feeling of security among the nations concerned. The intention was not only to safeguard Central Europe against the results of thermo-nuclear war but also to ease international tension and to make all countries feel secure. The Polish Government felt that the only just method of solving the various international problems was to have constructive discussions and patient negotiations, and to continue to seek solutions even if they were only partial solutions. It was necessary to re-establish the importance of diplomatic negotiations. The more direct contacts that there were between politicians of different countries, the better. Mr. Rapacki concluded by underlining the importance of such international organizations as the United Nations, the specialized agencies and the Inter-Parliamentary Union where representatives of the different countries could meet together.

Members of the council were called together at Warsaw for a special meeting to consider a submission by the Tunisian group to the effect that it be allowed to place before the plenary conference the following special resolution: -

That all national groups work for the holding of a round table conference on decolonization, thus eliminating seeds of conflict, reinforcing peace, security, and the spirit of collaboration.

The representatives from Tunisia opened up a very contentious discussion because it was considered by many experienced councillors that such a resolution would overload the agenda. My colleagues and I considered that in view of the disturbed conditions in

Africa, it would be wrong to reject such a resolution. I thought it wise also that I should support the resolution by a short statement. The resolution was carried with much excitement from the representatives of the African and South-East Asian countries. It was discussed only briefly at the plenary conference, and carried.

I believe that whenever possible a representative from the Department of External Affairs should be attached to the Australian delegation, as is the case in most of the member countries. With other countries, the additional member is a representative of the relevant Foreign Office or State Department. Australian members of Parliament, as distinct from those of other countries,, do not get the opportunity for experience in the conduct of international conferences. Another reason why a representative from the Department of External Affairs should be attached to the group is that some countries try to get through Inter-Parliamentary Union conferences matters which they cannot get through other international meetings. I have mentioned previously the matter which was raised at the Nice council meetings of teaching English instead of native languages in New Guinea schools.

One of the main interests in the Warsaw conference, was Australia's candidature for election to the Executive Committee. Twelve candidates stood for six. seats. The consensus of opinion is that we polled very creditably, considering that we have been a. member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union for only four years and that, length of membership is a criterion for election. The general comment was that: we had done surprisingly well. At the Nice council meetings we received only six votes for election to the temporary vacancy. At the conference she months later we received 26 votes.

Vbelieve that our participation in the Inter-Parliamentary Union is extremely worth while. The organization serves a most useful purpose in enabling Australian members of Parliament to become acquainted with international conferences and major foreign policy issues. It enables them also to meet prominent politicians from other countries. A large number of Ministers and ex-Ministers was present at

Warsaw. If Australia is to make a maximum contribution to the Inter-Parliamentary Union and to obtain the greatest possible benefit from it, as I think we should, 1 believe that provision must be made in the future for some continuity of representation whereby the delegates of one year are linked with those of the following year. Without this continuity it is difficult to see Australia ever obtaining election to executive positions of the L.P.U.

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