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Tuesday, 13 August 1974
Page: 781

Senator CHANEY (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - My question is addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the hope that questions asked in the Senate might advance the possibility that this young man will have freedom of choice as to whether he remains in Australia. Can the Minister confirm that Mr Ermolenko originally refused to see Professor Kabalevsky but was persuaded by some Australian friends to see him and that he saw Professor Kabalevsky for a period of 4'A hours in the presence of a Russian Consular official? Does the Minister know whether during that period requests by persons to see Mr Ermolenko were refused? I ask the Minister whether the consular access to which he has referred means consular access permanently between the time of the interview and Mr Ermolenko leaving the country. In other words, is the Minister suggesting that the principle is that consular access- with which we all agree- permits an Embassy official to remain with Mr Ermolenko day and night during that period?

Senator WILLESEE - In the first part of Senator Chaney 's question he repeats what I said, that originally on Sunday Mr Ermolenko said that he did not want to see any Russians. I think that included Professor Kabalevsky. Then next day, as Senator Chaney has said, Mr Ermolenko saw them.

Senator Chaney - I want to know for what period. Was it 4V4 hours?

Senator WILLESEE -I cannot answer that; I do not know. During yesterday afternoon Mr Ermolenko spent quite a lot of time with our man Mr Henne who told me that he agreed with Professor Callaway that Mr Ermolenko was relaxed and wanted to leave. I do not know for how long he was there. As to the next part of the question, I take the honourable senator to be referring to the meeting today and when Mr Ermolenko will leave, should he be there. I do not know whether he will decide to leave. Quite frankly, I do not know what the position will be.

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