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Tuesday, 1 November 1983
Page: 2152

Question No. 332


Dr Everingham asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 23 August 1983:

Will he undertake a prompt program of down-grading military and military supportive aid including transport, roads and communications under military direction, or with restricted access for journalists, civilians and minority groups until Australia's aid target of 0.7 per cent of GNP is reached, giving priority to constructive co-operative projects which benefit disadvantaged communities and avoiding all untied grants to military dictatorships including Indonesia and the Philippines; if not, why not.


Mr Hayden —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The main objective of Australia's development assistance program is to make a real contribution to the economic growth and social advancement of developing countries recognising that the value of aid to development is in assisting the recipient to become more self reliant. The aid program already gives priority to constructive co-operative projects which benefit disadvantaged communities in developing countries. For example, official aid given through non-government organisations is largely directed to help at the grass roots level in recipient countries. Also many of the bilateral projects supported in the aid program, such as primary health care or village water supply projects, are directed towards assisting the poor and deprived.

The balance in the aid program between grass roots assitance and development directed toward promoting broader based growth at a regional or national level is an important issue and is included in the terms of reference for the high level committee, chaired by Sir Gordon Jackson, which I have established to review Australia's overseas aid program and report on its future form and direction.

The Government endorses the United Nations target of providing 0.7 per cent of GNP as ODA. While it will endeavour to meet the target as quickly as possible, the Government must take into account not only the needs of developing countries , but also Australia's own economic circumstances and capacity to assist.

Apart from budgetary support assistance given to Papua New Guinea, no untied grants are given to developing countries through Australia's aid program. PNG is the only country to which we provide direct financial assistance, reflecting the special relationship between the two countries. Bilateral aid directed to other recipients is provided predominantly in the form of goods and services obtained in Australia.

Military aid and military supportive aid is provided to developing countries through the defence co-operation program which is the responsibility of the Minister for Defence. A small proportion of this aid is counted as official development assistance (ODA) where the activities undertaken assist economic and social development and are therefore classified by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD as ODA. In 1982-83 an amount of $7.2m was spent on defence co-operation activities which qualified as ODA and this represents approximately 1 per cent of the total ODA for 1982-893. The kinds of activity undertaken include mapping, malaria control studies and assistance with rural water supplies.