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Thursday, 22 May 1980
Page: 3227


Mr Hayden asked the Minister for Science and the Environment, upon notice, on 16 April 1980:

(1)   Has his attention been drawn to plans that the International Botanical Congress is to be held in Australia in 1981.

(2)   If so, can he say whether, in accepting an invitation to host the Congress, the host country is required to guarantee free access to all scientists who wish to attend, regardless of their nationality or country of origin.

(3)   Is he able to indicate whether the USSR hosted the previous Congress; if so, did it scrupulously observe this requirement and admit nationals of countries not recognised by the Soviet Government.

(4)   Will he give an assurance that the Australian Government will place no restrictions on the acceptability of scientists to attend the 1981 Congress based on their nationality or country of origin; if so, how does this relate to the current ban on scientific interchange with the USSR.


Mr Thomson - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   No. The Australian Academy of Science will host the 198 1 Congress under the auspices of the International Union of Biological Sciences, a member of the non-governmental International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU).

ICSU has a basic policy of non-discrimination which affirms 'the rights of scientists throughout the world to adhere to or associate with international scientific activity without regard to race, religion, political philosophy, ethnic origin, citizenship, language, or sex '.

The host institution is expected to do all in its power to adhere to ICSU's policy but is not required to guarantee free access to all scientists wishing to attend.

(3)   The USSR hosted the last Congress in Leningrad in 1975.

(4)   The Australian Government is not prepared to guarantee, several months in advance, free access to all scientists wishing to attend the Congress. (As indicated in my reply to Question No. 2 above, the host institution is not itself required to offer such a guarantee.) Any applications for visas submitted by Soviet citizens wishing to attend the Congress will be considered on their merits in terms of the Australian Government's policies at the time.







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