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Tuesday, 26 February 1980
Page: 373

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. The honourable member for Reid also will resume his seat. The honourable member for Reid called for a quorum. I did not hear any other call for a quorum.

Mr Uren - When was that?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -As the honourable member approached the microphone from behind the honourable member for Corio just 30 seconds ago.

Mr Scholes -Mr Deputy Speaker,the honourable member for Macarthur is drawing your attention to the state of the House.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -I call the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Mr Uren - Mr Deputy Speaker,I now draw your attention to the state of the House.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -A quorum is required. Ring the bells. (Quorum formed).

Mr MacKELLAR - I was referring to countries such as Nicaragua, Uganda and the hitherto self-styled Central African Empire. All had harsh and despotic regimes which have been overthrown and replaced by ones concerned to see the restoration of basic human rights.

Looking closer to Australia, I am glad to report that the Indonesian Government has recently honoured its intention, initially stated in 1975 and re-affirmed on a number of occasions, to release or bring to trial by the end of 1 979 all remaining prisoners detained for involvement in the 1965 coup attempt. This process of international improvement is by no means complete and the Government shares the deeply held concern of many Australians at the prevailing situation in a number of countries.

A country of particular concern to the Government is Kampuchea. The citizens of that country now find themselves in a situation whereby one oppressive regime has been replaced by another. It is now almost universally acknowledged that the Pol Pot regime committed gross abuses of human rights. The Australian Government has repeatedly condemned the excesses of that regime, but that does not mean that we can condone Vietnam's actions. There is also evidence to suggest that significant human rights violations have occurred in a number of countries in Latin America. Some of these situations will be considered by the current session of the Commission on Human rights and Australia will be adding its voice to those calling for a return to standards of decency and recognition of human dignity in those countries. At the same time, the Government believes that it is important that charges against any country or group of countries should be thoroughly investigated and properly proven before action is taken. The influence of the Commission would be considerably lessened if it were seen to act hastily or without proper procedures. Those who wish to frustrate the Commission's work would be in an easier position to do so if they could point to evidence of vindictiveness or dishonesty in its proceedings. Australia has been very prominent in the last three sessions of the Commission in working to improve its procedures so that the Commission not only would be more effective but also would be seen to be more effective.

The free world's actions against Russia's invasion of Afghanistan and steps to ensure that the USSR does not - ( Quorum formed).

Mr MacKELLAR - Mr Deputy Speaker-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The Minister's time has expired.

Motion (by Mr Bourchier) put:

That the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs be granted an extension of time.

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