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Wednesday, 24 March 1965

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania)

I have reserved my remarks on the Bill until now because I think they are appropriate for the Committee stages. Mr. Temporary Chairman, would you permit me to say how much I feel indebted to the honorable senators who have taken part in the second reading debate? May I also be permitted to say that in my visit abroad a year ago I had the opportunity of visiting Karachi? I saw there, at the mouth of the Indus River, evidence of the need for this scheme. I shall refer to this matter when I raise my second query concerning one of the provisions of the agreement.

In the first place, I want to ask the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) to deal in a little more detail with the discrepancy between the original estimate and the present estimate. It is a considerable difference. Despite the fact that reference has been made to a world inflationary trend, to proper safeguards by the Internationa] Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the amplitude of engineering and banking assistance available, the discrepancy is far more than we should allow to pass without criticism. I have in mind some very thoughtful remarks that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) has been good enough to include in the papers that he circulated on this subject yesterday. With the United Nations under threat at the present time, it is more than ever necessary to make it an effective body. We should not drift into the easy situation, because we are members of a partnership - in this instance, on the Minister's statement, we have contributed about 1.5 per cent, of the capital - of relying on the principal partners. If we do that, the United Nations will become a centre of squandering. If it is going to become effective, we in the Australian Parliament ought to let its members know - that is, if they ever read the comments which are made here - that we will not tolerate that use of United Nations money.

One of the rocks upon which the United Nations is in danger of being wrecked is the contribution of money for its existence. If we are to follow this policy, as I hope we will, we should insist that estimates shall be reliable, that our money shall be spent in accordance with those estimates and that when the whole of our contribution has been expended the beneficiary shall have the project that was promised - one fully capable of delivering the goods. We are not entitled in the slightest degree to allow this responsibility to slip from us. The proposition put before us in 1960 was estimated to cost us £6.9 million. We are now asked for an additional contribution of £4.6 million, without substantial explanation why the 65 per cent, increase is required.

My second comment is that from my reading of the Bill I do not think there is any substance in Senator Cant's suggestion of discrepancies between individual contributors concerning the ratio of these supplementary contributions. If there were any basis of fact for that suggestion, I would ask the Minister to explain the matter to the Senate. Why I think there is no substance in the suggestion is that in his second reading speech the Minister said that the contributing Governments were asked to pledge further sums in the same ratio as they had contributed the original sums. I read the Schedule as requiring the contributions to be made in the same proportions as the original contributions. I believe that New Zealand is omitted, so there may be a possible exemption for New Zealand in this regard. 1 find in Article 11 of the Schedule that against the United States grant of 118 million dollars the contributions repayable by Pakistan are 51 million dollars to the United States and 58 million dollars to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Can the Minister explain the meaning of that entry? I am reminded that the United States, great and meritorious as has been her attitude to the undeveloped world in the post-war era, has adopted the attitude of tacking on to this type of aid commercial advantages in her own favour. When I was in Karachi, I saw the wharfs of the port literally filled with wheat that had come from America. I have forgotten the terms on which it was supplied, but the position was quite alarming because 40 years earlier wheat was .being exported from that port. I just want to know whether or not there is any tag on the aid that the United States is giving under this agreement, and the explanation of the figure of 51,220,000 dollars which is that part of the United States' contribution which is repayable by Pakistan.

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