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Monday, 4 June 1984
Page: 2411

Senator ARCHER(3.13) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

I am a great supporter of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and of the interests behind the projects undertaken by this organisation. Contrary to so many departments, organisations and bureaus of various sorts the Centre is in fact trying to help the developing countries in areas where they need help most. The aim of the Centre is to try to make a greater number of Third World countries more independent. I believe that this is a very worthwhile aim. I notice that the report states:

ACIAR's approach thus far has been to help solve problems while at the same time improving the research capacity of collaborating institutions in both Australia and developing countries. Its ultimate objective is to improve the stability and productivity of the agricultural sector in developing countries and thus to contribute to their economic development and the well-being of their people.

I think this is a very worthwhile objective. I think we would agree that the Centre has undertaken very worthwhile projects. The report lists four projects, one of which is referred to as the venerable pigeon pea project. The venerable pigeon pea is something that has been in existence for about the last 4,000 years and is still very much a staple diet for a whole lot of people and will grow in all sorts of very inhospitable climates. The extension of its production is very worthwhile.

In the plant area, the identification and elimination of viruses is most important. Much work is being done now by Australian scientists in conjunction with scientists of other countries to try to eliminate problems in this area. Another area of study is the recycling of waste and the investigation into how to reduce post-harvest losses. On that subject, it is most unfortunate that in many countries which suffer great food shortages so much food is produced which by waste, poor handling or vermin never gets to feed the people for whom it is intended. Australia is now working in the ACIAR with a view to assisting developing countries to cope with these problems.

I do hope that the organisation will remain in a debureaucratised form and I hope that we will be able to ensure that it does not get into the hands of just government departments. I believe that the Committee, in the form that it is now determined, is particularly good and I believe that under the chairmanship of Sir John Crawford it will be maintained in a commonsense way for the benefit of the people it was intended to serve and in the manner it was originally set up.

Question resolved in the affirmative.