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Wednesday, 4 April 1973
Page: 1053

Mr DALY (Grayndler) (Minister for Services and Property) - As the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) said, I was one of the delegation that attended the conference at Malawi. I endorse the sentiments that he has expressed today. In doing so, I congratulate him on the leadership he gave to the delegation and the excellence of his presentation of the cases put on a number of issues by the Australian delegation. I should also like to incorporate in my remarks my thanks, as deputy leader of the delegation, to our secretary and all the officials and other people associated with the conduct of the conference. A special tribute is due to the people of Malawi for what was a wonderfully friendly welcome. Malawi is a very poor country in many ways but the people's hospitality to the limits of their capacity was unlimited, if I may say so. It was a charming experience to be amongst them. Great credit is due to those who made the conference so successful in that way.

I believe that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conferences serve a great purpose for discussion, for knowing people and for the mixture of ideas. The general community of interest that is apparent at meetings is exemplified in gatherings of this kind. Whilst in many ways the conference did not come up to what I would have desired, I would say that it is an Association with which we should be associated. We should endeavour to enable it, by monetary consideration and other things, to carry out the functions which it performs at present. As is evidenced in the report which will be published, certain changes are needed in respect of the composition of various executives and the regional areas and in the Association's methods of operation. I could not help but reach the conclusion that in many ways, instead of being what might be called a powerful relation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Australia was placed in the category of being a somewhat poor relation despite our influence in this part of the world and particularly the contribution we have made as an original member of the Association. Arising out of this feeling, we have suggested to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in our report certain rather drastic changes which we believe are necessary not only for the more efficient functioning of the body but also in order that Australia might not only be able to play its rightful part at these conferences but also receive proper recognition for the contribution we make to the holding of these conferences and the effort members of this Parliament and the government, irrespective of their political colour, put into the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

I thought I knew a bit about organising, but I somewhat humbly admit that, as my colleague the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) will tell you, Sir, I was taught a few lessons at a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference on how to win ballots. I congratulate those who were successful in getting their man elected. I mention, somewhat humorously but nonetheless seriously, that the organising ability of the honourable member for Bradfield was so roused and apparent that I think he almost could have applied for membership of the Australian Labor Party. I could not help but think that certain meetings were used for organising purposes. Whilst they might have been good for those concerned, certain people used them very fruitfully for organising purposes. Australia is supposed to have the opportunity to represent a region. If we fake our turn in the ranks it will be 1991 before we hit the front. If the ticket continues to be run in this way, this Parliament will not be represented. Far from being just led along, we should be the leaders because we can do so much for the Association in this part of the world.

I hope that the powers that be of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in London will heed the warnings that were given publicly by the leader of the Australian delegation and others on finance and organisation. I hope that all members of this Parliament will study our report and see that, as strongly as possible, we give support to what is being put forward as to changes that are very necessary if we are to be of any influence at all in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. I conclude these few brief remarks by endorsing the sentiments of the honourable member for Bradfield and thanking my colleagues in the delegation. The experience of attending the conference was all the more happy because on our return the Labor Party was elected to its rightful place in this chamber. I hope that support will be given to our recommendations, which are designed to improve generally the status of this Parliament in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the efficiency of the Association.

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