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Tuesday, 15 October 1974
Page: 1699

Senator MARTIN (QUEENSLAND) - I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs: If, as reported today, he considers the United Nations a madhouse and the duties of being President of the United Nations merely a tremendous grind of interminable meetings and speeches which just go on and on, what are his motives for seeking the presidency of such an organisation?

Senator WILLESEE -I noticed that when I used the word 'madhouse' in relation to the United Nations it was taken out of context. I have often heard that term used in relation to this place, too. The advantage which we have here over the United Nations is that we have a time limit on the length of our speeches, which it does not have. Yesterday I was asked a couple of questions about this matter. One question was in relation to my personal reaction. I said that the job is quite a grind- and it is. Today it is vastly different to be President of the United Nations, which has 138 members. There is much more activity throughout the world than there was in the old days. Watching Mr Bouteflika while I was there, and talking to him, I realised that the job is not an easy one. In relation to the question about the United Nations being a madhouse-

Senator Mulvihill - Senator Wrighthas gone over there.

Senator WILLESEE -He is doing well. Among the many people with whom I had conversations was Senator Wright. He is enjoying the place very much. Of course, the United Nations is a madhouse to the extent that one rushes from one appointment to another. Many Foreign Ministers are there in the early stages of a debate and they want to see you and you want to see them. It is a bit like this place when honourable senators go from one committee meeting to other committee meetings. That is the sense in which I used the term.

As for the reasons for my name happening to be the Australian name which has been submitted, the United Nations over the last 12 or 14 years, as it has become bigger, has seen the establishment of groups. We belong to the group called the Western European and Others. I ask honourable senators not to ask me where the tide comes from. That is what it is. It consists of 22 countries. It is the turn of our group to submit a name for the presidency to the General Assembly. I believed that in the early stages Australia should submit a name, along with the others. At the moment 3 nominations have been submitted. There could well be others. Theoretically there could be nominations from all 22 countries. This will be worked out some time next year. Generally a consensus is arrived at among the various countries in the group and one name goes forward. I believe that Australia should put its name in and that this name should be considered with the other names when the time arrived.

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