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Monday, 22 September 1997
Page: 7990


Ms ELLIS(1.43 p.m.) —I too participated in this trip to Thailand and Vietnam, and in the brief time I have got today I want to make two particular points.

First of all, I was extremely proud as an Australian member of the delegation to see first-hand how well spent our Australian aid dollars are. Empowerment is the word. When you talk to these people and you go out into the villages, whether it be in Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai province in the north of Thailand or whether it be in the provinces out of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, you see very distinct examples of when you are able to give the people in these areas the rare dollar—and it is rare to them—and you can see the huge advantages that they can then make from that money.

I saw the effects of our aid dollar in hospitals, when I saw nursing sisters stand back, point to what looked to me to be a fairly old humidicrib and say, with pride written all over them, `This came from your country. You helped us purchase this equipment.' In very basic conditions, those very basic facilities were clean, well tended and well staffed.

We have been helping with training, we have been helping with equipment and facilities, we have been helping with building an infrastructure and we have been assisting and guiding these people to actually empower themselves. They know better than we do what they need in their countries, but what we know and what we agree with them over is one thing: they need sanitation, they need clean water, and they need to know that they can have confidence in their future.

I would like to think that we can continue to spend our aid dollars well in both Thailand and Vietnam—particularly Vietnam, which is a very poor country. We were one of the first countries, if not the first country, to re-enter a bilateral aid program with Vietnam, and I am very proud of that. I would like to think that we, as a nation, will continue with this.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! It being 1.45 p.m., the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 104A. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting. The honourable member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.