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Wednesday, 30 October 1974
Page: 2118

Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK -Mr President,I preface my question by saying that this is a question without notice.

Senator Poyser - You would not want a debate on that, would you?

Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK -It is a question without notice.

The PRESIDENT - That is understood. Questions without notice are before the Chair.

Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK -Mr President,I have listened to your interpolation on this. This is a subject matter that could be discussed on a future occasion if you were agreeable.

The PRESIDENT - Please proceed with your question.

Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK -I address my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. As a suspect committee of the United Nations ventured upon a journey to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands over which Australia possesses unalloyed sovereignty, and as the visit to the Islands was at the Minister's invitation, my question is as follows: Will the Minister table in the Senate the strictures of this committee which he invited to visit the Australian sovereign territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands? Will the Minister further elaborate on the strictures of this committee about the Australian Government in its administration of this sovereign territory of Australia.

Senator WILLESEE -Mr President,I shall read the answer to Senator Sir Magnus Cormack: The Australian Government has seen an advanced draft copy of the report of the United Nations visiting mission to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and is presently giving the report detailed consideration. As the report has not yet been distributed officially, it would be premature to comment in detail on its findings, but the conclusions and recommendations of the report are in accordance with what we expected. When the report has been issued in its final form I shall ensure that a copy of it, together with a copy of the Government's comments on the report, are made available to honourable senators in the Parliamentary Library.

Senator Sir Magnus Cormack - Why did you invite them, though? That is what I asked.

Senator WILLESEE -The Government recognises the desirability and need for changes in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, which will be directed towards ensuring for the people of the Islands higher standards of education, economic development and self-government. As has been stated in replies to questions on notice, the Government's intention is that the future political status of the Islands should be determined with due regard to the freely expressed wishes of the inhabitants and in keeping with the principles of the United Nations charter and the relevant United Nations resolutions.

By way of interjection my friend Senator Sir Magnus Cormack asked me why we invited the United Nations mission to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. I do not think anybody can challenge the statement that this Government has stood very firmly by the rights of self-determination under the United Nations charter. We have encouraged that in other countries. I do not see how any government having done that could then stand by and in relation to a country which was under its jurisdiction say that we were not going to give self-determination to that country or that we were not going to open up for inspection by the United Nations anything that was under our jurisdiction. We have moved towards granting independence in New Guinea. If there were such groups in any other area I would do the same thing. How can we go about arguing and saying that other people should have selfdetermination but that people who have a different coloured skin and who are working for somebody else ought not to have the same rights and privileges as everybody else? How can we then turn round and deny to the United Nations and the whole world the opportunity to examine the administration by the Australian Government?

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