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ESTIMATES COMMITTEE A
DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE
Program 6--Development Cooperation
Subprogram 6.1--Country Programs
- Committee Name
ESTIMATES COMMITTEE A
DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE
Program 6--Development Cooperation
Senator Gareth Evans
- Sub program
Subprogram 6.1--Country Programs
- System Id
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Table Of ContentsPrevious Fragment Next Fragment
ESTIMATES COMMITTEE A
(SENATE-Tuesday, 21 June 1994)
- Start of Business
DEPARTMENT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET
Senator Gareth Evans
- Program 1--Departmental Policy Co-ordination
- Program 2--Government support services
- Program 3--Special policy and program functions
- Senator Gareth Evans
- DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE
DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS
- Program 1--Broadcasting
- Program 2--Communications
- Program 3--Cultural Development
DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE
Program 1--International relations, trade and business liaison
- Subprogram 1.2--Interests in South and South-East Asia
- Subprogram 1.3.2--Interests in West Europe
- Subprogram 1.4.2--Interests in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea
- Subprogram 1.4.3--Interests in Middle East and Africa
- Subprogram 1.7.1--International organisations
- Subprogram 1.7.2--Environment and Antarctic
- Program 6--Development Cooperation
Program 1--International relations, trade and business liaison
- Subprogram 1.5--Multilateral Trade Policy and Negotiations
- Subprogram 1.5.4--Trade rules negotiation (manufactures)
- Subprogram 1.6.2--International competitiveness
- Subprogram 1.6.3--Trade Strategy and Business Liaison
- Subprogram 1.6.4-Economic organisations
- Program 7--Austrade
- Program 1--International relations, trade and business liaison
- ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER COMMISSION
Content WindowESTIMATES COMMITTEE A - 21/06/1994 - DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE - Program 6--Development Cooperation - Subprogram 6.1--Country Programs
Senator TROETH --My question on subprogram 6.1 concerns the Friendship Bridge. I have recently seen Mr Bilney's refutation of reports that the Friendship Bridge is under-utilised. He has cited figures of use. He says that already approximately 300 vehicles carrying a total of 2,000 passengers use the bridge each day on average. I would like to know how the figures were obtained.
Mr Terrell --Those figures were the result of a survey conducted from data provided by the Thai authorities to our post in Bangkok. There is a further survey being conducted at the present time, but quite a lot of data has been collected by both the Thai and Lao authorities. What has been produced so far is a synthesis of that data. We are undertaking a further study though to get a more accurate count. There are some overlaps in the figures provided, for example the passenger figures, which include the commuter buses that run across the bridge from border control post to border control post, taking passengers because pedestrian traffic is not allowed on the bridge at this stage. So there is that sort of material being gathered. We will commission a full and detailed report on the usage of the bridge.
Senator TROETH --That will be an independent monitoring rather than one which may take into account the buses that you just mentioned?
Mr Terrell --Yes. We will be using local consultants to undertake that survey.
Senator TROETH --Prior to the bridge's construction, were any estimates made of the number of vehicles and passengers likely to use the bridge?
Mr Terrell --Yes. As part of the original feasibility study there was a quite detailed count of traffic at that stage and projections of likely usage were made. Our understanding is that, on the basis of the figures we have received so far, something like four times as much traffic is crossing the river now as was the case then, and approximately two-thirds of that traffic is across the bridge. So there is a substantial increase in the level of usage of that crossing when you take into account both the water crossing and the bridge crossing. The traffic on the vehicular ferries has in fact declined to the extent where consideration is being given to withdrawing the vehicular ferries, but probably the passenger ferries will continue to operate because they service the townships of Nong Khai and are more convenient to many foot passengers wanting to go across the river.
Senator TROETH --Will the government be taking into account that larger than expected usage of the bridge in its consideration of the proposed My Thuan bridge in Vietnam?
Senator Gareth Evans --They are all totally different situations. The pattern of usage for the Thai-Lao bridge depends, obviously, on the scale of the countries and the economic activity occurring each side of the river at that point. It also is influenced by the necessarily rather cautious attitude that has been taken by the Lao government about the impact of a massive increase in vehicular traffic on its own roads and so on. None of these considerations apply in relation to the bridge across the Mekong in Vietnam. A totally different set of data that will be taken into account in determining the economic impact, pro and con, of that bridge. Utilisation patterns are location specific. That is as much as one can sensibly say about these things.
Senator HARRADINE --I go to an issue I referred to at the last round of estimates committee hearings. To many of the questions that I asked the response was that cabinet had yet to determine the issue of the funding for population programs and that it would not be appropriate to make particular statements until that had been done. That has concluded, as we all know. First of all, how many of the proposals made in last year's budget have been dropped? That is not clear from the information that has been given to us.
Mr Lonergan --Could you please clarify the question, Senator.
Senator Gareth Evans --You heard the question. How many proposals that were contemplated at the time of the last budget, the one for which we are going to spend money this financial year, 1993-94, have been dropped?
Mr Lonergan --Perhaps if I can approach it this way: the activities that are funded this year are solely those that are contained in the Department of Finance agreement, which I understand you have a copy of, in addition to those which were announced by Minister Bilney on 30 April in a press release announcing additional projects as a consequence of the suspension on planning activities being lifted.
Senator Gareth Evans --That is what has been accepted. You are being asked if anything has been dropped off the notional list which existed 12 months ago.
Mr Lonergan --I could not answer that question without doing a detailed check.
Senator HARRADINE --What I am trying to get at is that there were particular programs where there were political commitments and financial commitments, and there were other programs. How many of those other programs were dropped? If they were not dropped, where do they appear in the documentation we have before us?
Senator Gareth Evans --I think the difficulty that the officers have in responding easily to that can perhaps be explained this way. The programs which had assumed a sufficient degree of precision to be identified as commitments for the purposes of the finance guidelines that we spoke of have all gone ahead. The other programs which had not yet got to the point of becoming the subject of commitments in either of those senses were necessarily only defined with a fair degree of imprecision or vagueness at that stage. That is certainly the case for the outyears; a lot of them had not even been defined at all.
What we did in the aftermath of the report was shape up a quite precise set of guidelines, which we are all familiar with, to make sure that every conceivable program in future conforms with them. That is the basic problem. It is not a matter of having a list of quite sharply and specifically defined things that were just sitting on the edge for 1993-94, some of which have dropped over the edge as a result of this. It is more a matter of having some loosely and generally defined areas of activity which have now been defined with a lot more precision as a result of this inquiry.
We are only talking about spending an extra $3 1/2 million for 1993-94 over and above that which was already the subject of prior notification. You have already been told in relation to that $3 1/2 million that all of that fits within areas that had previously been defined as a result of things being brought forward from next year or something of that kind. For the future, it will be a matter of ensuring that everything we do is subject to precise conformity with those new guidelines. That is as best as I can explain it. If AIDAB wants to take that on notice and give you a possible further answer having reviewed the lists that were around, we will be happy to do that. That is all they can come up with today.
Senator HARRADINE --I might take advantage of that suggestion because I found some which appear to have dropped off and new projects which were mentioned.
Senator Gareth Evans --Partly, that is just a function of lead time and lag time. The fact that they might have been originally identified as possibles might mean that they will still crop up again next year and beyond but in new guise; namely, certainly having to conform to these new guidelines. We will give you such further information as we can.
Senator HARRADINE --I will now refer to the matter that you raised about all population programs being subject to examination against criteria that were established and referred to in Minister Bilney's statement. A copy of that statement is contained in the supplementary information you provided to the committee. Condition (5) states:
5) availability to participants of a variety of family planning methods, and the freedom to choose an appropriate method, or to choose no method; specifically there is to be no use of incentives or disincentives which are coercive, and thus inconsistent with internationally recognised human rights.
Has every program been considered against those conditions?
Mr Lonergan --The conditions indicated in Minister Bilney's press release were conditions that we were instructed to turn into guidelines against which all projects will be evaluated and new activities will be checked. At the moment, those guidelines are currently being prepared, together with new systems, for the evaluation of all our activities. Those guidelines, according Minister Bilney's press release, are to be prepared by mid-1994. We are on target to produce those guidelines. Soon we will be preparing something for Mr Bilney's consideration on the new guidelines and procedures. Following that we will be in a position to check the activities we are currently funding and the ones proposed to be funded. I emphasise that we are not acting in a void. We always worked against the guidelines contained in A world of choice, so we are starting a long way along the path towards these new and revised guidelines.
Senator HARRADINE --You mentioned that new programs would be tested against those guidelines. What about existing programs?
Mr Lonergan --Minister Bilney has also requested that we review existing programs against the new guidelines. There will be a cross check just to ensure that we are not doing anything that contravenes the new guidelines once they have been issued.
Senator HARRADINE --Why was such a substantial amount earmarked for Vietnam when in fact everybody knows or should know that the population program there is coercive?
Mr Lonergan --I think it was discussed at the last Senate estimates that there is a great deal in the Vietnam program that is possibly coercive and possibly distasteful. However, there are signs that under policy dialogue and with the philosophy of demonstrating a better way to conduct things we may be able to influence changes in family planning programs by demonstrating that coercion is not the right way to go. Through the possibility of policy dialogue with the Vietnamese we hope to reform some of the processes that are currently under way. We do not dispute that there may be elements of the Vietnamese program which are coercive and may be distasteful.
Senator HARRADINE --`Policy dialogue' and other methods are exactly the words used by UNFPA to excuse their involvement in the China program. Is it not a fact that in many respects the China program is more coercive now than it was?
Senator Gareth Evans --I do not know that there is any evidence for that.
Senator HARRADINE --Had you not heard about the riots in China last year on this particular matter?
Mr Terrell --I draw a distinction between the activities which are undertaken and the program policies and practices that are applied in the countries in which we work, and what we do through our particular activities that we fund directly from the program. The guidelines we have been talking about are the ones that we will applying to programs that we develop for implementation by Australia. Those will conform with the policy guidelines that are being established for all population activities funded through the aid program, and they will therefore be able to demonstrate the alternative policies that are being applied by Australia in its population activities. They do not necessarily need to be in any way compromised by other activities that are undertaken in the countries that we would not support under our policy guidelines.
Senator HARRADINE --I have heard that before. The UNFPA was saying similar things. Its programs are part and parcel of the PRC one child per family policy.
Senator Gareth Evans --I am not sure that is quite fair. UNFPA has been working very hard to try to get less coercive, less intrusive policies and practices adopted in China, as I understand it. That is what I am told and that is what I verily believe. I might be misinformed but that is the evidence that I have seen. There is no denial, as Mr Terrell and Mr Lonergan have said, that there are plenty of things still going on in China and elsewhere that do not conform with the kind of principles that you and I would like to apply.
Senator HARRADINE --Have you not read the material that I have placed in Hansard in respect of UNFPA and the statements that were made by Madam Sadik that the Chinese program was voluntary? She maintained that position until recent years.
Senator Gareth Evans --I suppose Madam Sadik's personal voyage is a matter of considerable interest to some of us but the important thing is that, as a result of the kind of dialogue that I had with her when I was responsible for the aid program and that people like Mr Bilney are having, and as a result of the kind of influence that you are exercising through the opportunities available to you, there has been a much greater appreciation in recent years on the part UNFPA about the force that it can usefully be for reform of a lot of these programs.
Senator HARRADINE --What effect has it had in China?
Senator Gareth Evans --I would like more evidence than a riot in one part of a very large country of 1.3 billion people to form a judgment that all of this has been totally ineffective.
Senator HARRADINE --Are you saying that there is no one child per family policy in China and in Tibet, for example?
Senator Gareth Evans --I am not saying that. The matter in issue is how coercive and intrusive the program is and how that is achieved, whether it is through coercive programs or coercively structured incentive programs. They are the matters properly in issue. That is not the nature of the programs we are involved in as the officers have said.
We are in the business of applying these guidelines to future and existing programs. In terms of the expenditure of Australian money in this area, we will do our best to ensure that those principles are applied on the ground, because we believe in them.
Senator HARRADINE --That is why I am asking you these questions as to how far you are going. Let us take the people in China. Are you saying that, just because there is an Australian involvement in a particular area in China, the one child per family policy will not apply to those people who are covered by that program? The minister's guidelines say `or to choose no method'. Are you really saying to the committee that the women covered by your program have a real choice--they can decide whether they will choose no method at all? Is that what you are saying?
Mr Terrell --In the specific activities that we undertake, that we fund, we are aiming to apply these principles in the situations in which we find them. I do not believe that the situation in every commune, every village and every township throughout both China and Vietnam is identical. I think we will find enormous variations in the situation on the ground in different areas. I see no reason why we should not be able to apply the principles that have been developed here in the specific activities that we are undertaking in the countries in which we undertake them. I believe that we can achieve that.
The situation in some places will be different from the situation in others. What we are doing in the areas in which we will be working I believe is something that we can monitor. We can ensure that the design framework, which is established in conformity with these guidelines, is applied in accordance with the design. The situation of the people in those areas may or may not be different from the situation of people in other areas. If there is an element of the guidelines that we cannot apply in a particular activity, obviously that will have to be identified very clearly in the design process. We will therefore not go ahead with it if we cannot apply it.
Sitting suspended from 6.33 p.m. to 8.05 p.m.
CHAIRMAN --I call the committee to order to continue examining program 6--the Development Cooperation.
Senator HARRADINE --Prior to the dinner break I was raising questions about the China program. The questions were raised because of our unanimous support and concern for human rights. I was raising the issue of the money that is being proposed in this budget for UNFPA against the statement made at the last estimates committee, when I asked:
Will there be an examination of UNFPA and IPPF and the other institutions as to whether they are in support of demographically driven programs and so forth?
The response by the minister was, inter alia:
All I have said is that, in relation to all those programs to which we have made clear-cut financial commitments at the moment, we have made it clear that they stand. However, to the extent there is any flexibility . . . we will obviously do that in the light of our consideration of guidelines . . . To the extent that money is unspent or uncommitted at the moment, it will be a matter of applying pretty rigorous guidelines and criteria, I guess, in the future, if we go down the path of spending that money at all.
I come back to the question that I raised: are all population programs going to be subjected to scrutiny against the guidelines, the outline of which was announced publicly by the minister after the cabinet decision last month?
Senator Gareth Evans --The answer is yes.
Senator HARRADINE --Who is going to undertake the examination of UNFPA and IPPF?
Senator Gareth Evans --What we are examining is those programs that we ourselves have some operational responsibility for. We will certainly be examining that dimension of the UNFPA programs and so on that we are involved in. There are no open-ended donations to UNFPA, as such, but there is some core funding.
Senator HARRADINE --Is it not a fact that the funding for UNFPA increased by 140 per cent last year against the previous year?
Senator Gareth Evans --That may well be the case.
Senator HARRADINE --Was there no examination of the involvement of UNFPA in coercive population programs?
Senator Gareth Evans --That has certainly been a subject of considerable discussion and examination over the time that I, at least, have been engaged in these hearings with you, Senator Harradine. You yourself have acknowledged--as indeed you did again today--that UNFPA has lifted its game considerably in terms of its understanding of the issues of principle that are involved here. We have been very conscious of that. That has been one of the factors that has led us to have that degree of confidence in its programs and, as a result, to our willingness to support them.
Senator HARRADINE --But there has been a substantial increase in funding for UNFPA, has there not? In actual monetary terms, how much funding is UNFPA going to receive in core budget funding and funding for other projects--that is, the total amount? I am not talking about the $3.4 million for next year or the $3.3 million for this year, as compared with $2 million last year; I am talking about the overall amounts.
Senator Gareth Evans --Mr Lonergan is telling me that AIDAB would have to evaluate some 50 or 60 different activities in order to give you that answer. The officers are happy to take the question on notice but they cannot give you an answer to it right now.
Senator HARRADINE --I am raising the question now. Is AIDAB aware that the UNFPA's deputy in Beijing in 1989 asserted that charges of coercion in the Chinese program were groundless and that Nafis Sadik said that the program was totally voluntary? Is the department aware of that? It is very important that if we are providing millions of dollars of taxpayers' money we know what the organisation believes.
Senator Gareth Evans --Whatever people might have said in whatever context five years ago, you have acknowledged that there has been a lot of sensitivity shown on this issue by the UNFPA in recent years. You did so in Hansard just before dinner.
Senator HARRADINE --Let us come to 1991.
Senator Gareth Evans --What about 1994?
Senator HARRADINE --Nafis Sadik told a Chinese reporter that China has every reason to feel proud of and pleased with its remarkable achievements in family planning over the last 10 years. She added that the UNFPA was going to popularise China's experiences in other countries. This is the year before AIDAB presumably recommended a substantial increase in funds to UNFPA. I would like to know what AIDAB was doing? Did it know about these things? Did it do an examination of UNFPA against the human rights criteria? Here is a China program; it is a brutal program.
Senator Gareth Evans --Yes. There are some aspects of it that are manifestly less than satisfactory; we have been readily prepared to concede that. But, equally, before the dinner suspension you heard from Mr Terrell the rationale for many of these programs being on the inside rather than being on the outside shouting in. I think it is worth reminding you of the agreement that we have reached and signed with Ningxia province about the Australian funded project which is presently in the process of being established, tendered for and all the rest of it. We genuinely believe it is possible to make progress in terms of introducing non-coercive policies in these areas. It is far better to be on the inside working away for those objectives than simply standing back and throwing mullock at it. Programs are going to continue.
Senator HARRADINE --I did not know that that matter was public information. I would be happy to ask questions about the matter either here or in the human rights subcommittee. It may be better to ask questions in the human rights subcommittee to examine just how much knowledge the AIDAB officials have of the actual operation of the one child per family policy in China.
Senator Gareth Evans --There are aspects of these matters that are, I am advised, confidential and it is difficult to talk further about them.
Senator HARRADINE --That is why I was not raising that matter. But I certainly would be happy to raise it.
Senator Gareth Evans --I do not think there is any difficulty about giving a full briefing on these matters as we have been prepared to do on other occasions in the past.
Senator HARRADINE --The human rights subcommittee has had briefings on them.
Senator Gareth Evans --It does not seem to impact upon your public responses.
Senator HARRADINE --No. Because I respected the confidentiality of them.
Senator Gareth Evans --But informed by those briefings you are then supposed to be more reasonable.
Senator HARRADINE --Unfortunately, I believe that the people who gave the briefing were ill informed of the actual on the ground operation of the policy in China.
Senator Gareth Evans --We can but hope that these things will improve in future.
Senator HARRADINE --That is evident in the agreements that have been entered into. That might best be considered in the human rights subcommittee. Are you saying that the involvement of the UNFPA in the China program has had a modifying effect? My information is that the China program remains highly coercive and is currently being sharply escalated.
Mr Lonergan --It is worth noting that within China 98 per cent of the family planning programs are funded by the Chinese and two per cent from external donors. I think there is a large weight of evidence that, despite the relatively small amount of funding that is coming from outside, we have been able to introduce through policy dialogue some reforms which will lead to a more enlightened policy. For instance, it is my understanding that last year the UNFPA signed an agreement with the Chinese that it would jointly monitor incidences of coercion within the program activities that it is implementing. I think any dialogue that then follows from that sort of agreement and that opportunity in a relatively small way to influence the program will, at the end of the day, make great advances for the human rights aspects of the China program.
The other thing that I think is worth noting is that if you take the AIDAB activities and you look at the funding very carefully, there will be a lot of children and a lot of mothers whose lives will be saved as a consequence of our activities in family planning. By providing birthing kits which will cost only in the order of 10c, we will be able to stop garden implements being used, which will transmit neonatal tetanus.
Senator HARRADINE --Mr Lonergan, we are not talking about that; we are talking about the UNFPA family planning program.
Senator Gareth Evans --Mr Lonergan is also talking about that program.
Senator HARRADINE --Which program are you talking about?
Mr Lonergan --I am talking about the bilaterally funded Ningxia family planning project, which was the issue that was discussed with the human rights subcommittee.
Senator HARRADINE --I do not want to go into matters that are confidential, but if you want me to I will
Mr Lonergan --No. I would like to point out that when we undertake family planning projects the basis on which they are undertaken is that they are not directly and solely family planning. They have to be integrated with other activities, such as maternal and child health. That becomes a major part of the activity and we save the lives of women and children as part of family planning projects. It is an integral part of the activity.
Senator HARRADINE --Why can the neonatal tetanus programs not proceed without becoming involved in a program that is inherently coercive?
Mr Lonergan --I think it is important to note also the major health budget initiative that was undertaken as part of this year's activities.
Senator HARRADINE --That is not the question I asked you. Certainly there would be no objection on human rights grounds to neonatal tetanus programs, but if the involvement of Australia or the UNFPA is taken as endorsement of the one child per family policy in China, surely that is something that we should be concerned about on human rights grounds.
Mr Lonergan --But the premise of your question is not accurate. We do not accept the one child per family planning program. We are there to inform through policy dialogue and through demonstrating a better way that that is an inappropriate program.
Senator HARRADINE --Are you saying that the people whom AIDAB is going to serve there are not going to be subject to the one child per family policy?
Mr Lonergan --In Ningxia they never were. It is a two- and three-child policy.
Senator HARRADINE --I am talking about what you have here. If you want to go into it, what are the agreements that you have signed with the judicial authorities in Ningxia about then if there is no--
Senator Gareth Evans --Senator, you have been told that Ningxia is not a province in which the one-child policy has hitherto prevailed. There is a two- or three-child policy for a start, indistinguishable in that respect from the Pontifical Academy of Science, which has just reported in today's press.
Senator HARRADINE --I am fully aware of the limited diverse nature of the material. But, going to the documents that you have and that you signed in relation to the judicial figures, where does the judiciary--the magistrates--come into this area in China? Have you ever heard the magistrates coming into this area in the day-to-day operation of the population control programs of China?
Senator Gareth Evans --That is a matter we would prefer, if you do not mind, to pursue with you in slightly more confidential contexts than this one.
Senator HARRADINE --All right; you will have plenty of time to suss that out and study what is in fact on the ground of the implementation of that brutal policy. Going to the China country program, an amount of $7.7 million is proposed on page 94 of the additional information. It says:
There is a range of project level commitments to family planning activities in China totalling approximately $7.7 million over the next four years. This includes a financial commitment to the Guangdong Family Planning and Reproductive Health Project that was mistakenly recorded in the forward years figures of the original table as a political commitment.
What is that?
Mr Lonergan --That is a project that is currently being designed. It is a project which will go through rigorous analysis and which will be assessed against the guidelines which Minister Bilney will announce mid-year. In the event that it does not meet those guidelines, in the event that we cannot guarantee that those guidelines will be met, the project will not proceed.
Senator HARRADINE --So if the people concerned have decided that they will have no method at all and then they are coerced by the street committee, the factory committee, the institutional committee or the women's federation in China, you will pull out?
Mr Lonergan --I can only refer to condition No. 5 in Minister Bilney's press release, which you referred to earlier. That is a ministerial decision that will guide our guidelines and which we will adhere to or the project will not proceed.
Senator HARRADINE --But in material before the committee you have told us that you will spend $7.7 million over the next four years. That is a commitment. That is what AIDAB has told the committee. The amount of $7.7 million is a commitment. How did you come to make that commitment? For example, were you aware that in September 1991 Guangdong province reported that its Vice-Governor had signed an emergency circular demanding that all areas push forward--
Senator Gareth Evans --Did you say 1979?
Senator HARRADINE --I said 1991. I will not read the circular because it is very distressing. Did AIDAB know about that? This commitment presumably was being developed in 1991. Did you know about it?
Mr Terrell --Can I try to set the record straight in terms of what we have done and what we are prepared to do?
Senator HARRADINE --I just asked a question--
Mr Terrell --I believe it is necessary to clarify--
Senator HARRADINE --I asked the question: did you know about it? It very important. If you did not know about it, say so because it is very important from the human rights aspect. In a province that you have committed $7.7 million to--
Senator Gareth Evans --You have been told that this particular project in that particular province is subject to further evaluation against these guidelines.
Senator HARRADINE --So there is no commitment?
Senator Gareth Evans --I think the question is an irrelevant one under those circumstances.
Mr Terrell --May I point out what is meant by a commitment?
Senator HARRADINE --Yes, I would like to hear it.
Mr Terrell --The process under which we proceed into project development under the bilateral program is firstly to identify the broad area in which it is proposed that we should work and, secondly, to undertake a preliminary study to identify the broad dimensions of the sort of activity it will be, the sector that it will address, the broad funding parameters associated with it and the length of time it is likely to take. That is then subject to regulation 44A approval, which gives AIDAB the authority to start the process of designing a project. A series of subsequent processes are gone through, each stage of which defines the project in more detail and more specifically.
The activity that we are talking about is one where that broad framework has been decided: we will be undertaking a reproductive health and family planning product in Guandong province. A certain amount of design work has already been undertaken in respect of that project, and it has been indicated that the order of magnitude of that project is, as you have outlined, an amount of $7 million or $8 million over a period of years.
The next step in that project is to design in detail how that it will be implemented, the activities that it will undertake, and the agencies with which it will work. After that, we select a managing agent to implement the activity. That is followed by an implementation phase, which includes a review of the design framework to ensure that it is all practical and feasible. It is a long process. That is what is meant. We have not yet reached the stage where there is a detailed design report for that project. It is proposed to produce such a design report in 1994-95.
Senator HARRADINE --We have before us a statement that $1.7 million is committed for this project in 1993 to 1994. We have two weeks before the end of 1993-94. Can anybody tell me where that $1.7 million was spent?
Mr Terrell --We can give you a detailed accounting of what has been spent on the project so far and what is proposed to be spent on the project.
Mr Lonergan --That $1.7 million relates to all activities in China, of which the Guandong was down for only $100,000 this year. That was part of the cost of the development of a detailed project design. The other activities that make up the $1.7 million are listed on that page.
Senator HARRADINE --How is the rest of the money being spent?
Mr Lonergan --That is on page 8 of that document. The projects listed are women's health and family planning, Ningxia maternal and child health, Guandong family planning, and the population and development extension project. The figure is the sum total of those activities.
Senator HARRADINE --Does that include the Guandong family planning or reproductive health project?
Mr Lonergan --Yes.
Senator HARRADINE --I come back to the question that I have already asked: did you know what had happened in the Guandong province with the PRC's population control policies?
Mr Terrell --I did not, but I believe that AIDAB's appraisal reports and the design work that will be done on this project before it is finalised will take full account of the situation in Guandong province.
Senator HARRADINE --But you are off and running with these other matters which include actual commitments to the population program in Guandong province, with the exception of--
Mr Terrell --So far we have spent $100,000 on preparing that project for design. I do not think it could be described as `off and running' with it.
Senator HARRADINE --I did not mean that project. I meant the other ones that were described by Mr Lonergan.
Mr Terrell --They are not in Guandong.
Senator Gareth Evans --We might have exhausted Guandong for the moment.
Senator HARRADINE --We can go to the other areas. We cannot talk about Ningxia. You have said it would perhaps be better to talk about that in the human rights subcommittee. Where are these other programs?
Senator Gareth Evans --Yes.
Senator HARRADINE --What about these other programs?
Is there $1.2 million for the women's health and family planning project?
Mr Lonergan --I do not have the full details in front of me. I can say that at least two of those activities are based in the Ningxia province, which I think is the poorest province in the whole of China. That refers to the UNFPA project and the Ningxia project. I would have to take on notice your question about the women's health and family planning project; I simply do not have the documentation with me.
Senator HARRADINE --What independent means have you adopted to assess the desirability, on human rights grounds, for involvement in the population programs in China?
Mr Lonergan --We operate under guidelines. The guidelines are being revised. In the event that the guidelines are not met, the project will not proceed.
Senator HARRADINE --You are funding UNFPA. You have more than doubled its funding for 1993-94. What independent assessment has been made by AIDAB in respect of that organisation or, for that matter, IPPF?
Mr Lonergan --All activities that are funded are subject to the appraisal process. They are often designed by independent people external to AIDAB and on return of the project design, they go through--
Senator O'CHEE --What process have you been going through with AIDAB? That is the question you have been asked.
Mr Lonergan --We have A world of choice guidelines. All projects that we have been actively engaged with have been assessed under the A world of choice guidelines.
Senator O'CHEE --So you can give us a categorical assurance that no coercion has been involved in any of these programs?
Senator Gareth Evans --Certainly not any coercion in the UNFPA programs as such. UNFPA has been more and more over recent years focusing on using its influence--smaller, maybe, because external funding only accounts, as has been said, for about two per cent of the total amount of expenditure in China on population activities. It has been increasingly using such small influence as it has to try to encourage the Chinese authorities to move away from coercive or incentive type activities.
We in our own particular corner of the field in China have been doing that as well. We are going to do it even more as a result of Senator Harradine's initiatives and the guidelines that we have now agreed, quite voluntarily, to work with. Existing particular projects under these various auspices will be rigorously scrutinised in the future, not just the ones that are coming into effect for the first time in the future but also those that have some ongoing application.
As I said at the last estimates hearings, to the extent that there is any flexibility at all in terms of what can in the future be spent or not be spent, our decisions as to how to go on funding these things will be determined by that evaluation. That evaluation will take place in-house in AIDAB with the assistance of reporting from a post, with the assistance on occasion of reporting from consultants or other people employed specifically for that purpose. A multiple variety of sources of data are taken account of in these situations, including in the general literature. We will do the best we can to make an a effective appraisal of these programs. That is a reasonable response, and that is the one that you have been getting all afternoon.
Senator O'CHEE --Minister, you have indicated already that some of the practices used in birth control programs in China have been, to use your own words, `less than satisfactory'.
Senator Gareth Evans --That is no secret. In China and Vietnam a lot of the programs are coercive.
Senator O'CHEE --If you would let me finish what I was going to say, you might appreciate my point. You have indicated that in the past they have been less than satisfactory. You have told us that your concern is to get more leverage by being on the inside rather than on the outside. But you might recognise that some of us have concerns that, unless we are very careful, being on the inside may make us complicit in some way in processes which are less than satisfactory simply by virtue of a desire to get leverage.
Senator Gareth Evans --Even if you choose to take what I would regard as a fairly jaundiced view in that respect, you still have to take into account the fact that, overwhelmingly, the programs in which we are involved in China do not just have a direct and immediate family planning contraceptive and so on character about them; they have a maternal and child health character about them. So being there on the ground means that we are directly and immediately contributing, as Mr Lonergan said perhaps before you came in, to saving a very considerable number of children's and mothers' lives. That is a very worthy thing to be doing. If, at the same time, you are making very clear your opposition to other related programs which are incentive driven and inherently coercive, then I would have thought there is unquestionably a net plus about the applicability of your activities, unless you really do have a view about this which is not susceptible to rational argument.
Senator O'CHEE --Don't fly off the handle. Some of us are just expressing legitimate concerns. You should not say that these concerns are irrational. I am asking you to give some indication of the guidelines and the position which you as minister take, and yet you come up with this irrational response. All I want to know is: can we be assured that the assessment processes will be transparent so that we do not become complicit in programs which you have said have sometimes in the past been less than satisfactory? All I want is that simple assurance.
Senator Gareth Evans --I have given you the best assurance I can in that respect. I have also given accompanying reasoning to support that assurance. There is nothing much more I can do other than being boringly and tediously repetitious, which I do not want to be.
Senator HARRADINE --So none of the people who are served by AIDAB in Ningxia or Guandong will be subjected to examination by the PRC authorities, the street committees, the factory committees or the women's federation to see whether they are contraceptive acceptors and none of them will be then penalised for choosing no method at all, to use the words of Mr Bilney.
Senator Gareth Evans --We believe that we will have a far better chance of ensuring that by being there on the ground than by not being there.
Senator HARRADINE --You do. Is that not what UNFPA said? Is it not a fact that the program is more coercive now than it has been in the last few years? UNFPA has been there since 1983, I think.
Senator Gareth Evans --I do not think we will resolve this particular wrangle.
Senator HARRADINE --It is a matter of our money going to the China program. It is interlinked with the China program.
Senator Gareth Evans --Senator Harradine, we do not disagree about ends; we do not disagree about objectives. I do not think we disagree with the fact that, on the ground, in practice, our program is likely to have a substantial beneficial effect, as far as child health and maternal health are concerned. There is a question as to how effective we will be at the end of the day in changing some rather well entrenched practices in a number of parts of China. We do not think those practices are especially entrenched in some of the areas in which we will be operating. You talk about a one-child family policy in Ningxia. My understanding and advice is that that has never worked that way in the province. So you are starting ahead there.
Senator HARRADINE --I did not talk about a one-child family policy in Ningxia.
Senator Gareth Evans --You talked about it in China generally. There is no point in having a quibble of this kind every half sentence. All I am saying is that it is possible to acknowledge that there will be differences of opinion and differences of judgment at the end of the day as to how practically effective we are in trying to introduce more voluntary and less coercive practices. We believe that there is an excellent chance of doing that, as a result of our experience on the ground so far, and that is what we will be trying to do. You would be justified in getting stuck into us if we seemed to be profoundly indifferent to those practices and lent some aid, comfort or support to them. We do not believe that, reasonably construed, our program can be characterised in that way. We are still in the process of evaluating that program, particularly so far as Guandong province is concerned where, as you have been told, it is still only in the very early stages of putting the nuts and bolts of that program together.
Senator HARRADINE --Is it not a fact that in regard to the Chinese one child family policy the use of contraceptives facilitates an identification of non-acceptance? That is to say, if a person has not had an IUD fitted and is regularly screened for that, or if there is not some other method being adopted, that that is a tool, as it were--
Senator Gareth Evans --In a society where there is no tradition of patient confidentiality and all the rest of it, I suppose all information of that kind can be grist to the mill of social engineers of one kind or another. Yes, it is a different society to ours. Yes, we have a different view about the most appropriate way of achieving ends. We are doing the best we can within that framework and we believe that this money will be well spent and will add net good to the welfare of the people in the areas we are dealing with.
Senator HARRADINE --If you had a situation whereby the women concerned could, together with their husbands, make decisions which did not involve that enumeration, the use of that tool--in other words, for example, the OM method--that would be really empowering them.
Senator Gareth Evans --You have seen the objectives that are now spelt out in the guidelines. You have seen them quoted yourself. Objective No. 5 states:
availability to participants of a variety of family planning methods, and the freedom to choose an appropriate method, or to choose no method; specifically there is to be no use of incentives or disincentives which are coercive . . .
That is the objective, that is the touchstone we will be using for our particular program in these particular areas and it remains to be seen in Guandong whether the program can be constructive in a way that will satisfy those guidelines. We will do our best. We share the same objectives. We are in passionate agreement.
Senator HARRADINE --I believe you should consider the statement made by UNFPA over a period that it will have a modifying influence on the program. I leave with you the question of whether that has occurred or whether the Chinese authorities quite reasonably claim that support for any aspect of their program represents approval of the program as a whole.
Senator Gareth Evans --If they claim that, that is not a claim that has foundation in our judgment.
Senator HARRADINE --In so far as UNFPA is concerned.
Senator Gareth Evans --Please leave that with us and we will do our best to evaluate and respond to that in the next episode in this serial.
Senator HARRADINE --I turn to our commitment to Vietnam.
Senator Gareth Evans --I have given you what you sought in that respect before dinner. I hope you have received the appraisal program. Have you?
Senator HARRADINE --Yes, I have. It is a very interesting document, as a matter of fact. I want to turn to the Vietnam program that is listed on page 89. There are a number of programs there, again using UNFPA. This is money that is provided to UNFPA without, it appears, any true examination by AIDAB of what UNFPA stands for and whether it has objected to or encouraged the Vietnamese government in its population control policies.
Mr Lonergan --I think it is important to note the procedures and processes that AIDAB puts in place in working with UNFPA. As I have indicated previously, we are looking at our systems and processes as part of implementing and operationalising the guidelines that Minister Bilney has put forward. You may know that we are planning to put a junior professional officer into Vietnam to work with the UNFPA to assist with monitoring, to assist with information and to assist in ensuring that AIDAB's policies and guidelines are in place. We are engaging in dialogue at meetings at UNFPA headquarters. Minister Bilney has met with the head of UNFPA and put Australia's concerns and those concerns have been discussed.
Senator HARRADINE --So have I.
Mr Lonergan --In addition, there has recently been a meeting of AIDAB officials and UNFPA officials from the Pacific. There is now an agreement that AIDAB will join UNFPA monitoring missions so it can participate in those. We are approaching UNFPA and working with it on a number of levels to assist it with its programs and to ensure that it meets the Australian conditions. That is something that we will have to further operationalise when preparing papers for Minister Bilney's consideration.
Senator HARRADINE --I refer to the amount of $1.3 million on page 89. This involved a commitment by the government and AIDAB to a program. Are you aware of the Vietnamese government's population policies?
Senator Gareth Evans --We had some discussion about this earlier on and the officers acknowledged that Vietnam's population program was not necessarily a thing of beauty and a joy forever and that it did have coercive dimensions to it. We are unhappy with and unimpressed by that but we do believe that there is a case for working with the authorities in an endeavour to introduce a system that is more acceptable in principle while, at the same time, as I have said before, doing the job that these programs do so well with maternal and child health. It is essentially the same rationale. It is acknowledging the problems of the system as it operates at the moment and doing our best from inside to change those practices. You believe in reform, redemption and all that sort of stuff; that is what we are about.
Senator HARRADINE --With dictatorial governments I do not believe that. We have problems with human rights violations. There are human rights violations and you have committed money to them.
Senator Gareth Evans --It is either working from within or posturing from without; what do you do? You might feel better about doing it from without but we believe it does better to operate from within. If we share the same objectives it becomes a matter of taste or a matter of argument about means. It ought not be a matter of in principle disagreement between us.
Senator HARRADINE --Are you saying that if any of the people in the Vietnam program are penalised by the Vietnam government they will in some way be protected?
Senator Gareth Evans --We will do our level best to ensure that our programs work that way.
Senator HARRADINE --What do you mean by your level best?
Senator Gareth Evans --Just that.
Senator HARRADINE --What do you mean?
Senator Gareth Evans --Just that.
Senator HARRADINE --That you are going to implement Mr Bilney's statement that people can choose to have no method of family planning?
Senator Gareth Evans --That is the objective.
Senator HARRADINE --That is against a program in Vietnam where the government limits family size?
Senator Gareth Evans --Would you wish us to abandon the exercise of trying to get change in Vietnam?
Senator HARRADINE --What I am raising with you is whether this has a negative effect that encourages the government to say that its program has international recognition.
Senator Gareth Evans --It is very difficult for them to keep a straight face and say, `Read the transcript of Senate estimates hearings.'
Senator HARRADINE --The government of Vietnam will not be reading the Senate transcript. I refer to the document that I was given before dinner. The UNFPA P08 coordinated activities in UNFPA information, education and communication--IEC--program. It states:
This is an umbrella project worth $US2.8 million. The main implementing agency is the NCPFP IEC Department--
which is the National Committee of Population and Family Planning. The document goes on:
. . . which draws assistance from mass organisations such as the women's union, the youth union, peasants union and fatherhood front. These mass organisations have their own projects which are coordinated through PO8.
Do you not know that those organisations are the executive arm, the arm twisters?
Senator Gareth Evans --I am not going to argue with you about that. What I would say is simply this--
Senator HARRADINE --They are the arm twisters.
Senator Gareth Evans --We have got two options for the future in relation to Vietnam, and similar reasoning applies to China. On the one hand, we can decide not to provide any assistance at all to Vietnam in this sector. On the other hand, we can provide assistance for high quality and voluntary family planning projects--because that is the test that is going to have to be satisfied before they are implemented--in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of family planning programs conducted on those principles. At the same time, we can continue to engage our Vietnamese counterparts in high level policy dialogue, ensuring that those policy principles are understood.
That is the sort of choice you have got. You can get in there and work away doing good as you go--maybe only at the margin; maybe it is a long slow haul--or you can walk away from it completely and say, `No, it is all too tacky. We don't want to have a role in it.' We, by instinct, prefer the route of engagement, the route of trying to demonstrate the effectiveness of programs run on a different basis. I would have thought your own deep humanitarian instinct would make you think that maybe there is something in that sort of approach.
Senator HARRADINE --I am concerned about how the people are going to be affected on the ground. The object of that project is:
to strengthen the management capacity of the IEC Department of the NCPFP, improve the information base of the seven UNFPA provinces of concentration amongst individual households at communal level, and train 7,070 commune based motivators such that married couples of reproductive age modify their health and family planning behaviours and shift to a more balanced contraceptive mix.
Is that what you are about? Is that not setting the scene for coercive practices?
Senator Gareth Evans --If you can work with a body with that kind of communication and education--if you like, propaganda--role, and if you can persuade it to see that there is a better way of achieving the ends that everyone is about in this area, then you have taken a major step forward. But if you just take the view that there is no possible, conceivable way you can ever influence anybody to do anything, you might as well just stay at home and never do anything by way of outreach to any sort of society which has got an ideology at the top level with which you disapprove.
Senator HARRADINE --Do you propose that the Australian taxpayers fund an IEC campaign--a propaganda campaign--to train 7,070 commune based motivators such that married couples of reproductive age modify their health and family planning? Is that not the basis for coercion? That, in fact, is the basis of coercion, because it is community coercion. Do you not understand what happens in factories? They are fined if they go over their quota, and the pressure comes from the other workers because they have gone over their quota. How would you feel if you were a woman under that circumstance?
Senator Gareth Evans --If people like us with our particular perspective and our approach to the relevant principles do not get in there and start working away in that environment to demonstrate the effectiveness of voluntarism in this particular area, nothing is going to change. We may or may not be effective, but we are certainly going to be trying.
Senator HARRADINE --How do you demonstrate voluntarism when you are saying you are putting communal pressure on the people? That is what you are proposing--communal pressure on the people.
Senator Gareth Evans --I have stated the Government's case in this respect and I do not honestly think I can answer you any better than I have.
Senator KEMP --In relation to the visitors program at the back of the Insight journal, from time to time there are a number of visitors from Hanoi who come out here on government sponsored programs. Are they going to be made aware of the sorts of concerns that are being expressed in this committee about the foreign aid program to Vietnam? I have raised other issues about the lavish nature of the program to Vietnam--the $320 million. Senator Harradine has raised other issues. When these people come out, who do they meet?
Senator Gareth Evans --I am not sure who you mean by `these people'. I do get into a discussion about these issues with the people whom I meet--I have in the past.
Senator KEMP --The editor-in-chief of world affairs review is based in Hanoi. Your department is bringing him out to Australia.
Senator Gareth Evans --Mr Chairman, I think Senator Kemp is stretching the long bow as usual in this matter. The appropriate opportunities are taken to communicate these views when they are talking to government spokesmen in particular areas. I have done so myself in the past. I cannot speak for all my colleagues, but I am sure they are equally sensitive on these issues.
Senator HARRADINE --I turn to page 83 of the additional information that was provided to us. I asked specific questions about the additional funding for the health initiative. I asked for the indicative breakdown of the measures which were announced at budget time. AIDAB indicated that following consultations the sectoral breakdown would not be available until later in the 1994-95 financial year.What I am really interested in is how much money is going for polio--this is the additional funding for health initiative--for neonatal tetanus, for malaria and for HIV/AIDS? In the latter case you already have a substantial amount--
Mr Lonergan --It is unfortunate that at this stage we are in the process of developing the proposals which will go ahead for the health funding initiative. We are talking about a doubling of health expenditure. It will become a major platform of the aid program. There was a case recently in Africa where three donors were working in the one country, not Australia, and every one of them was competing for activities in the same sector and demanding that the government follow different policy advice. We need to be on a very firm foundation as we move into such a major initiative.
To make sure that we are on a firm basis we are undertaking a process to ensure that what we are doing will be integrated, will be effective and will meet the needs. That process thus far has consisted of capability studies. We have looked at HIV capability studies and pharmaceutical capability studies. We are undertaking consultations with the key groups in Australia to determine where we have the relevant advantage and where we have the experience and the expertise in each of these areas. We have requested our posts to discuss with recipient governments the activities of other donors and also their own government priorities to make sure that when we get in we are not going to overlap with other activities and that they are going to be effective.
We are undertaking consultations with UN agencies this week. We have an officer currently in New York talking to the UN agencies about their activities to make sure we integrate with those activities. We have pre-feasibility in project implementation activities scheduled for July and August. They will follow on to feasibility studies and to project activities.
We have in place a process whereby in probably a couple of months time not only will we know where we are going and what we are doing with it, but we will also be able to guarantee that the money will be very effectively spent. It will not suffer from some of the problems that other donors have experienced, where they rush in, compete, overlap and give conflicting advice. This year we will be spending a sum pushing $70 million on health in the aid program.
Mr Terrell --The allocations that are made of that global amount for the health initiative are additions to geographic allocations on a country and regional basis. So the sectoral break-up also depends upon geographic priorities in individual countries. At this stage it is not possible to subdivide on both a geographical and a sectoral basis.
Senator HARRADINE --The reason I am asking the question is that, quite rightly, there had been a positive response by many people to the fact that malaria, neonatal tetanus and polio were getting a kick along. I return to page 84 of the document. On the matter of the population inquiry, the question about the amounts actually paid to individual inquirers has been answered: the amounts paid were negotiated with Professor Ahlburg. Is it not a fair question to ask Professor Ahlburg precisely how much went to each author? Is there some commercial in-confidence about it? If there is, I will not press it. Can you not ask him how much went to each author?
Mr Lonergan --We could ask, but I think we would not be entitled to expect a reply. The contract was a lump sum output contract. We paid on the production of the report, which was prepared by a team of consultants appointed by Professor Ahlburg. We are not privy to that information under that contract.
Senator HARRADINE --I understand, but I think it is reasonable to ask, since it was a fairly substantial amount and people might like to know how much was paid to individuals.
Mr Lonergan --It is a standard contracting procedure that is in common use throughout government for output contracts; that is, payment is to be received on production of the output.
Senator HARRADINE --In the minister's statement he said that the report was going to be a major resource document at Cairo. At the last estimates committee we talked about the report summary not doing justice to the report. I notice that that was also referred to in a paper prepared at the request of Minister Bilney by Professor Duncan of the National Centre for Development Studies at the ANU. On page 1 of that five-page review, he said:
Another criticism that I should mention at this point is that the Executive Summary issued does not reflect fully the thoughtful, generally balanced presentation I found in the individual chapters of the Report. Someone reading only the Summary would not get a full idea of the complexity of the interactions in the relationships discussed or of the policy implications drawn out by the authors.
Later he refers to the head researcher Professor Ahlburg as saying:
If the government seeks to improve the economic position of the poor, the largest and quickest impact will come from the most direct policy instruments available. Among such instruments are policies to increase access of the poor to land, credit, public infrastructure, and services, particularly, education and health.
In fairness to the author, I seek leave to have that document incorporated in Hansard. It was sent to me by Mr Bilney with a request that it not be made public until after the cabinet decision, which has now taken place.
CHAIRMAN --Is it the wish of the committee that the document that Senator Harradine has referred to be incorporated? There being no objection, it is so ordered.<INC.DOC>
The document read as follows--
Review of: The Independent Inquiry Report into Population and Development of April 13, 1994 by R.C. Duncan National Centre for Development Studies, ANU, Canberra
The terms of reference for the Inquiry obliged it to "review the evidence on the links between population growth and development" to provide information to allow the Federal Government of Australia "to assess the relative costs and benefits of population activities in achieving improvements in development indicators vis-a-vis alternative policies". As well as looking at the relationship between population growth and economic growth, health, housing, education, wealth distribution, food, resources, and environmental issues, the Inquiry was directed to look at the human rights issues involved with population policies.
My overall impression of the Report is that the Inquiry team has done a very creditworthy job in reviewing a substantial body of literature on these various, mostly complex, issues and has provided you with a review that gives a generally well balanced view of where knowledge of these subjects stands at present. From an academic viewpoint, the review is a very useful compilation and analysis of the research done in these areas and points to many areas where current knowledge is inadequate and further research is needed.
My major criticism of the Report, as you will see below, implicitly reflects the omission of an economist from the team with expertise in economic growth issues. This would have given a needed macro-economic and general equilibrium breadth to the review. Another criticism that I should mention at this point is that the Executive Summary issued does not reflect fully the thoughtful, generally balanced presentation I found in the individual chapters of the Report. Someone reading only the Summary would not get a full idea of the complexity of the interactions in the relationships discussed or of the policy implications drawn out by the authors.
The early part of the Report is concerned with the relationship between population growth and economic growth (usually measured as per capita GDP). Here, the Report focuses mainly on simple correlations or regressions between population growth and per capita GDP growth, in particular on a body of research stemming from Kuznets' (1967) paper showing that there wasn't any simple cross-country correlation between them. Subsequent work confirmed this result for later time periods, however, Prof. Kelley of the Inquiry team has, in recent studies, found a negative relationship between these two variables for some developing countries in data covering the 1980s.
The focus on this simple relationship is almost entirely misplaced. It was useful for Kuznets to compare the data in this way to show that one could not draw general conclusions about economic growth rates from what happens to population growth rates. But this simple relationship does not provide an adequate framework within which to look for the sources of growth. For this purpose a framework of analysis drawing together land, labour, human and physical capital, and technology is needed.
There is an easily accepted and widely demonstrated statistic that high-income, developed countries have low population growth rates. But with the diverse group of what are presently developing countries, there need be no systematic relationship between these two variables. Over a period of time some fast-growing developing countries will have population growth slowing because they have begun a demographic transition--usually as a result of improving living standards--as costs of educating children have increased, infant mortality has fallen, life expectancy has increased, health of women has improved, and the birth rate has fallen. In other countries, population growth may be increasing and income increasing, because even though infant mortality has fallen and life expectancy has increased, the birth rate has not adjusted to these changed circumstances. In other countries the population growth rate may be increasing as income grows because the population is adjusting towards some optimal, higher level. Population may adjust to a higher level even though per capita income is not growing very fast (after all, people are a resource, especially educated people). And then there are the most unfortunate cases of countries at very low per capita income levels where population growth may be outstripping income growth (for the open-access resource reasons that Prof. Panayotou suggests may exist in some very poor countries with highly inadequate property rights, especially for land).
It is important to make the point that it is not possible to make a general argument that slowing population growth will increase economic growth. Cause and effect does not run in this direct--or, at least it mainly goes in the opposite direction, from economic development to slower population growth. Indeed, the Report mostly accepts this view, although the focus of Prof. Kelley's chapter on this relationship could be misleading. It would have been better to have had a broader discussion of the relationships in the economic growth process, showing how population growth was largely endogenous to the process.
As regards the relationship between population growth and social indicators or aspects of economic well-being--such as health, education, food availability, housing, resources, and the environment--the Report generally provides a balanced review of the literature. On most counts the available evidence does not point to a negative impact from high population growth--especially evidence from cross-country studies. This is not surprising. As the authors show, the two-way flow of effects between these variables is important and pervasive--between fertility and health, fertility and income, and fertility and education or the environment. For example, in the absence of coercion, family planning services will only be used if family demand for greater control over fertility exists. But if demand for reduced fertility is increasing as economic development takes place (and/or infant mortality declines), it is hard to sort out the direct effects of the public provision of family services from the family planning that would have taken place regardless. Moreover, since individual country circumstances are so different, cross-country analysis presents enormous problems in isolating effects. Because of the pervasiveness of the feedbacks between these variables, examination of simple correlations between variables and drawing conclusions about cause and effect is dangerous--a fundamental problem which the authors acknowledge but sometimes neglect in their conclusions.
The main point to come out of the chapters on those issues, and one which the authors emphasise, is that population growth is not the main variable on which policy in developing countries should focus in order to make major improvements in environmental conditions, food availability, education, housing, etc. The first-best policies to resolve the problems that arise in these areas are far superior. Government policies should focus mainly on establishing appropriate property rights, making sure that activities generating externalities are taxed or otherwise penalised, providing education--especially at primary level, and especially for females--giving women equal rights and opportunities, etc. As Prof. Ahlburg says: "If the government seeks to improve the economic position of the poor, the largest and quickest impact will come from the most direct policy instruments available. Amongst such instruments are policies to increase access of the poor to land, credit, public infrastructure, and services, particularly, education and health."(p.23)
But does this mean that because it is difficult to find strong positive relationships between slower population growth and the various aspects of economic well-being that provision of family planning services is not useful? As the Report makes clear, family planning information and services are valuable tools in helping a family maximise its economic welfare. Just as the family is better off with more education, more information about farming practices, more information about managing production or price risks, or more information about protecting against disease, so it is better off with more and better family planning information and services. However, providing education and information in all of these areas comes at a cost, either to the family, the taxpayer, or from foreign aid. Therefore, the important question is: which activity provides the greatest return? Unfortunately, as the Report's review of the evidence makes clear, the knowledge to answer the question with any accuracy does not exist at present.
Therefore, how much of the Australian foreign aid budget to devote to family planning services has to be a matter of judgement. But the judgement can be informed by the Report. The report makes clear that family planning services have to be part of a "package" of aid that focuses on economic development. To quote a statement from Prof. Panayotou (made in relation to correcting environmental problems but which is generally applicable): "The policy implications are threefold: (a). . . the emphasis of outside assistance and pressure should be primarily on policy reform and capacity building; (b) to accelerate the demographic transition, family planning services should be made available to those who want and need them [my emphasis]; (c) social and economic change that helps create demand for family planning should be emphasised, especially education, health and employment measures that benefit women. . . "(p.25)
On the issue of Human Rights, I am not an expert so I can only give you an uninformed impression of the chapter on this subject. Overall, I believe the various arguments on this highly sensitive topic were fairly canvassed. The author ends by providing a listing of what seem to be clear human rights violations which foreign aid decisions should consider in the provision of aid for family planning services. As Dr Mason states: "Forced sterilisation and abortion are regarded by most observers as clearly constituting an unacceptable violation of human rights." (see Abstract). Also, services which reward recruiters to family planning services or which penalise or reward communities for meeting targets or otherwise putting collective pressure on individuals generally are regarded as unethical, leading as they apparently do to the purveying of false information about the effects of family planning services.
An important consideration which Dr Mason stresses and which should also warrant close attention in aid projects of this nature is the "process by which population programs are created--in particular, whether the individuals most affected have a voice in the program's creation. . . " (see Abstract).
I would also make the point that, given the evidence is generally lacking of clearly adverse impacts of fertility decisions on collective well-being, it seems that it would be best to be very careful about sanctioning family planning services which look in any way to be infringing on a family's right to decide on the number of children born.</INC.DOC>
Senator HARRADINE --What I am really asking is: is it possible either to have that included in the documentation for Cairo or alternatively some fairer executive summary of the information that was supplied?
Senator Gareth Evans --I will raise that matter with Mr Bilney. I am inclined to agree with you that the summary could better reflect the actual content of the report. I think Professor Ahlburg's own overview is pretty good as a detailed account of the content of the report. But when it gets back to the very bald executive summary that was clearly done in a bit of a rush at the last minute, I am not sure that it does convey fully the flavour. It may well be possible to get a better executive summary of the thing at the beginning in the form in which it will be bound for Cairo. There is a bit of sensitivity about that because, in a sense, the document comes as a whole from the consultants and they retain the copyright and all the rest of it. I cannot give a guarantee about that, but I will certainly raise it with Mr Bilney and see what can be done.
Senator HARRADINE --On the report, I think it is important to set the record straight. On 24 May on page A99 the statement by the shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs was incorporated. It read:
Mr Peacock said he was unequivocally in favour of safe and voluntary family planning services provided without reference to demographic goals.
Mr Peacock simply cannot accept any undermining through the Australian aid program of parental freedom of choice. According to Oppenheim Mason, however, this is an "extreme" and "untenable" position. Oppenheim Mason's views on this issue, Mr Peacock said, are not credible as a basis for public policy in this country.
You, Minister, said--
Senator Gareth Evans --I said that I could not find that particular quote.
Senator HARRADINE --You could not find it. I simply refer you to page 24 of Oppenheim Mason's report. Page 24 of her report states:
Does the possibility that demographic goals undermine individual reproductive needs mean that it is morally unacceptable to have a population policy (as opposed to, say, a family planning program created without reference to demographic goals)? As was reviewed earlier in this paper, there are several bases on which such an extreme position seems untenable as a general principle, including the evidence that, in some situations, unrestrained population growth indeed threatens collective well-being.
That is where she used the word extreme.
Senator Gareth Evans --Can I also say for the record that, while I fully accept that those words were used in that particular quote, the point being made there is a more subtle and a rather different one to that which was construed by Mr Peacock. Maybe we can let posterity argue that one out on the basis of the written word rather than continuing this debate here tonight.
Senator HARRADINE --In fairness, that needed to be corrected. I want to turn to the question of human rights and demographically driven policies and to refer to one example. In regard to the Papua New Guinea program, we have now been provided with a summary of the program that differs from the one previously provided. It is part of that $15 million project for Papua New Guinea. It says that this program is designed to enhance the capacity of Papua New Guinea's health and family planning services `to bring the rate of population growth into balance with the capacity of the government to provide social and economic services'. I thought that the demographically driven programs were now questioned by your government and were out. Is that what that program is now supposed to do?
Mr Proctor --The objectives of the program are very much to improve the health of mothers and children and also to moderate population growth. If I can explain the program briefly, the major problem in PNG is that of women and children's health. At least one in 40 women will die during pregnancy or child birth in PNG compared with one in 17,000 in Australia. There are all sorts of reasons for that. But high risk pregnancies do occur with a--
Senator HARRADINE --Mr Proctor, we have discussed that matter and we have also discussed the question of maternal deaths and the reasons for the maternal deaths in PNG, which include having too far to walk. I am asking how that is now described? Is it described in your previous terms? I notice that you have dropped the words `to bring the rate of population growth into balance with the capacity of the government to provide social and economic services'.
Mr Proctor --I use the words moderating population growth.
Senator HARRADINE --I am pointing to the material that is currently before us. You appear to have dropped those words. Is that a genuine change or is it just a synthetic change in the view of AIDAB? I hope it is a genuine change.
Senator Gareth Evans --That particular Papua New Guinea program has always had a dual purpose. As Mr Proctor said, it has had a purpose of moderating population growth, or however you choose to describe that, and it has also had a very clear rationale for maternal and child health. You are getting both accounts. The language might change from time to time but the concepts are the same.
Senator HARRADINE --But you have not then abandoned--
Senator Gareth Evans --You heard Mr Proctor say it.
Senator HARRADINE --You have not abandoned your suppositions and your assumptions in regard to demographically driven programs. Is it--
Senator Gareth Evans --The whole point of the population inquiry was to establish what could be said for and against demographically motivated programs, quite apart from the health dimensions of that program. As we saw from the study, there is ample justification in many societies for a demographic objective as well as a specifically health objective.
Senator HARRADINE --Where was that suggested?
Senator Gareth Evans --In half the outcome studies that you have in front of you.
Senator HARRADINE --Where?
Senator Gareth Evans --The Ahlburg studies--
Senator HARRADINE --You have been reading the executive summary.
Senator Gareth Evans --No, I have been reading the whole report. Whereas it says that a number of the linkages in the causal relationships are nothing as stark or as clear as they are sometimes asserted to be, and whereas in some cases in fact they run the other way, it is equally the case that there is some demographic justification, not just a health justification.
Senator HARRADINE --I ask the question--
Senator Gareth Evans --It is a quarter past nine, for God's sake.
Senator O'CHEE --Do not use blasphemy.
Senator Gareth Evans --Oh, you shut up.
Senator O'CHEE --No, I will not shut up. I am taking a point of order--
Senator Gareth Evans --You go and bite your tail.
Senator O'CHEE --It is not right for a senator or a minister to blaspheme, and I think that should be withdrawn.
Senator Gareth Evans --Go bite your bum.
Senator O'CHEE --Mr Chairman, I am taking a point of order.
CHAIRMAN --You are taking a point of order?
Senator O'CHEE --Yes, I asked that the blasphemy be withdrawn.
Senator Gareth Evans --The blasphemy? Go bite your tail--blasphemy?
Senator O'CHEE --No, you know exactly what was said--
Senator Gareth Evans --You are not vesting yourself with God-like authority are you, you little creep?
Senator O'CHEE --You can carry on as much as you want but you will behave yourself according to the standing orders.
CHAIRMAN --Order! Senator O'Chee, you have taken your point of order. I did not quite catch the blasphemy--
Senator Gareth Evans --I think I said `for God's sake' at one point. I am sorry if that has offended Senator O'Chee. I do not think that is a--
CHAIRMAN --Senator Evans has said he is sorry for that, Senator O'Chee, so we now come back--
Senator Gareth Evans --I would not accept the characterisation of it. Can we get on with the questions?
CHAIRMAN --We will now come back to the questions. I think we have had a fairly slow progress in the last hour or so. I ask that we all try to--
Senator HARRADINE --Mr Chairman, the reason I had to ask these questions is that, when I sought information at the estimates committee previously, the government kept saying that the matter was going before cabinet. Now I am trying to get the answers to the questions. I am not going to ask many more questions. In fact, we might be able to get through this. I have specific questions to ask about who the agents are and who constitutes the boards of the agents in some of the population programs. Perhaps I can write to AIDAB and it can give me the answers.
Senator Gareth Evans --Please--we would be delighted.
Senator HARRADINE --I do want to ask specifically--AIDAB can give the response either now or alternatively at some later stage--about the purposes of the inquiry, which were stated as follows in Mr Bilney's draft letter:
The Government requires information that would allow it to assess the relative costs and benefits of population activities in achieving improvements in development indicators vis-a-vis alternative policies.
We have canvassed the human rights questions. I am not going over them again. When will these assessments be made of population programs vis-a-vis alternative programs?
Senator Gareth Evans --Sorry; population programs versus other programs in the context of Papua New Guinea or more generally?
Senator HARRADINE --Generally--in relation to programs and in a general context.
Senator Gareth Evans --We have already made that evaluation in general terms to the extent that we as a government have thought that it is appropriate to spend the amount that we are spending on these combinations of demographic and health driven programs in the population area. It is around about two per cent of the total aid budget. Bearing in mind all the other things that the aid budget is spent on, we regard that as a proportion that is hardly excessive given the justification that is being clearly advanced for such programs in the report. It is a matter of judgment as to what percentage is an appropriate one for expenditure on programs of this kind. The government has made that judgment, and we will just have to live by it.
Senator HARRADINE --The amounts have increased threefold and are set to increase fivefold over four years. That means other programs will be affected. Where has the cost benefit analysis been undertaken? Who has undertaken those cost benefit analyses?
Senator Gareth Evans --With respect, the premise of the question is somewhat flawed because there is a real increase in this year's aid budget. In effect, additional dollars are being devoted to aid.
Senator HARRADINE --It is the same ODA to GNP as last year, is it not?
Senator Gareth Evans --No. That involved a four per cent real increase in the amount of dollars that were spent. I think it was about a $70 million real increase in the aid budget. To the extent that some or all of it is being spent manifestly on this particular increased program, it is not at the expense of anything else. There is no way to do a detailed cost benefit matrix in a strictly arithmetical sense across the whole aid program; it is a matter of judgment. The judgment that we have made, as I have said, is that, however much of an increase there may have been in the population area, it has been against a tiny base. The total proportion of the aid budget spent on these programs is still of the order of only 2 per cent. Given the very thoroughgoing evaluation of the programs involved in the study in general terms, we believe that is justification for spending it.
Senator HARRADINE --So in other words there has not been a cost benefit analysis.
Senator Gareth Evans --It is a bit difficult to design one in any rational policy making progress. The point is that at the end of the day you have to make a judgment as to whether a proportion of the money spent on this matter is excessive or not, and opinions were different.
Senator HARRADINE --On page 84 of Hansard I asked the question:
. . . has AIDAB considered how many women in Indonesia at the present moment with the Norplant implant have been lost in respect of follow up?
It appears from the response that half a million women in Indonesia have been lost to follow up. In other words, they are going around with Norplant implants and nothing is being done about it.
Senator Gareth Evans --You have the figures there.
Senator HARRADINE --Yes, I have figures. Is that not a matter of grave concern?
Mr Lonergan --We sought a medical opinion on the possible side effects from a Norplant implant not being removed. The advice from an independent medical source is that the greatest danger is pregnancy. There are no known health risks associated with a Norplant implant remaining in the body, although as a precaution it is recommended that it be withdrawn.
Senator HARRADINE --Who gave that information?
Mr Lonergan --Our medical adviser within AIDAB provided that advice. It was based on some information he had researched. I think it is also important to recognise that part of the loss is due to private practitioners. Many people use private practitioners rather than the government service for the removal of an implant, it is difficult to quantify the percentage using private practitioners. I think it is also important to note that Indonesia recognises the problem and is issuing colour cards demonstrating the uses of Norplant to try to reduce the incidence.
Senator HARRADINE --You say that your medical adviser in AIDAB has said that there are no known ill effects.
Mr Lonergan --That is right, apart from possible pregnancy.
Senator HARRADINE --No known ill effects.
Mr Lonergan --That is correct.
Senator Gareth Evans --That is a pretty reasonable basis on which to operate, is it not?
Senator HARRADINE --Do you think it is acceptable for women in these programs, many of whom, because of social pressures, have been coerced into having the Norplant implant, to be going around with it still in?
Senator Gareth Evans --Your question has been answered. There are no known ill effects.
Senator HARRADINE --How much taxpayers' money is spent on the purchase of contraceptives and contraceptive devices?
Mr Lonergan --By whom?
Senator HARRADINE --By AIDAB.
Mr Lonergan --I would have to take that on notice.
Senator HARRADINE --In your various programs, how much money is spent on the purchase of contraceptives and contraceptive devices?
Mr Lonergan --We would have to take that question on notice.
Senator Harradine --When you do, could you take the following questions on notice. Does AIDAB have a list of all of the contraceptive drugs, such as Depo-Provera and Norplant, plus the devices, used in all aid programs sponsored by Australia and other donors, such as the United States, UNFPA, the World Bank and IPPF? Could you indicate which drugs are used by which programs? Could you provide all published and unpublished clinical literature which you might have regarding these drugs? Could you obtain published and unpublished copies of the literature of the US Food and Drug Administration? If we are spending money on these things, we do need to know their effects.
Senator Gareth Evans --That is a huge research exercise you are asking AIDAB to embark upon to provide you with that information. It is the whole stock of medical knowledge, in effect.
Senator Harradine --Does AIDAB not have a library or--
Senator Gareth Evans --Yes, but there is a huge amount of published material on this. AIDAB has its own medical adviser That medical adviser would in turn rely on library and other source material. It is not a matter of easily compiling a quick checklist of half a dozen references. A mass of material goes into these judgments that people make. It is a slightly unreasonable request to ask that that be done.
Senator Harradine --I am asking it, and I think it is fair that AIDAB should know what drugs and devices are used in its programs. It ought to know what side effects they have.
Senator Gareth Evans --Provided you are content with an answer in fairly general terms referring to the state of knowledge of AIDAB in broad categories of the material on which the advisers rely for that knowledge, perhaps that would be manageable. We will take that on notice and see what we can do.
Senator Harradine --I have a final question on the WHO and the human reproduction program. Who is doing the examination of HRP?
Mr Davis --The review has been conducted by two officers within AIDAB and a medical officer. That review is currently with the minister for his consideration.
Senator Harradine --The review has been done?
Mr Davis --The review has been limited to looking at those extra budgetary programs that AIDAB funds of WHO, not of WHO as an entity.
Senator Harradine --I am talking about the HRP program for which you have got an increase from last year. Has an examination been done of the trials conducted by HRP and on whether informed consent was utilised in those trials, for example, in India?
Mr Davis --The examination has not gone into that level of detail.
Senator Harradine --Should it not, if this body is undertaking trials, the women subjects of which are not told what the effect is of the particular drug which is being trialled on them? I will leave that with the department. If the examination has already been done, why have I not received from AIDAB the information regarding its programs, the minutes of its meetings and so on, which I requested through Estimates Committee C? They said that they would get AIDAB to send us the information, but I have not received it as I have been told that AIDAB is getting it from Geneva. If you have done an examination of HRP, why do you not have the materials on hand? Why do you have to get it sent from Geneva?
Mr Davis --As I mentioned, the status is that this review is still with the minister. Until the minister has had the chance to look at it, we are really not in a position to provide it to a wider audience.
Senator Harradine --I am talking about the basic documents for a review, which include its technical reports and its minutes. Do you not have them? That surely would be the basis for any review.
Mr Davis --During the review, a lot of material was gathered. We can look at that material to see what we do have available which could be passed on.
Senator HARRADINE --I was told that I would have this material, and I am requesting the material. Why cannot the committee have the material, which includes the material that I asked for in Estimates Committee C? They said that you were getting the material for me. So I am asking for it.
Mr Davis --We will get in contact with the people who made that undertaking in Estimates Committee C.
Senator HARRADINE --I am asking AIDAB to provide us with all of the information relating to the HRP program, as I requested through Estimates Committee C.
Mr Davis --We will provide what information we can once we have been able to talk to the people who put forward that undertaking in Estimates Committee C.
Senator HARRADINE --Thank you.
Senator TROETH --I refer to Mr Bilney's press release of 19 June, in which he claims that AIDAB has proper procedures in place for quality assurance with respect to the use of consultants. Does AIDAB insist on suppliers implementing the appropriate AS3901 standard for consultants?
Mr Terrell --Can we take that question on notice? I do not know the standard to which you refer.
Senator TROETH --Yes. Now that cabinet has considered the independent review on population and development and the government has reinstated the funding which was frozen last year, is it the government's intention to proceed with publication of the review of the review commissioned by Ron Duncan of the National Centre for Development Studies at the ANU? I did ask about this at the last estimates hearings.
Senator Gareth Evans --It has just been incorporated in Hansard. I think that amounts to sufficient publication. It is not a large document. It is only a few pages and it is very much publicly available now.
Senator TROETH --Did the multilateral aid review, which covered all the multilateral family planning and population related agencies, look specifically at the human rights aspects of these programs and whether any coercion was condoned by these organisations?
Senator Gareth Evans --The chapter in the population study dealing with human rights did not specifically evaluate the particular programs. It evaluated the arguments for and against such programs in human rights terms that appear in the literature in practice. It did not purport, nor could it have done within the canvas of that study, to be an examination, country by country, program by program, of whether or not particular programs met one or other of those standards. We have just been through several hours of discussion on the extent to which particular programs do meet those standards, but necessarily that is a matter of case by case analysis. You could not expect that to emerge from a study of that kind.
CHAIRMAN --Senator Macdonald has posed some questions under the headings `Basel Convention on Hazardous Wastes' and `Climate Change'.
Senator Gareth Evans --Mr Chairman, I think the questions on the Basel Convention are fair enough. We have not dealt with them in open session so we are happy to take those on notice. The questions on climate change I think have all been asked in one way or another, or certainly answered, and I do not honestly believe that there is any other response that could be given by officers. They are all questions really addressed to the minister and most of them, if not all in fact, were asked. So I would resist those being taken on notice; I think it would just be repetitive. But the Basel ones are fair enough.
CHAIRMAN --The proposal is that those questions headed `Basel Convention on Hazardous Waste' be incorporated. There being no objection, it is so ordered.
[These questions appear at the conclusion of today's proceedings.]
CHAIRMAN --It only remains for me to thank the minister and the officers from AIDAB for their cooperation.