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Thursday, 28 March 1985
Page: 932


Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition)(10.14) —The International Development Association (Special Contribution) Bill 1985 is supported by the Opposition and I will speak only briefly on it. The Bill seeks approval for the appropriation of $60m from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. It provides for the contribution of that money to the International Development Association. The International Development Association (Special Contribution) Bill is designed to authorise an additional voluntary contribution of $60m to the International Development Association. This contribution is in addition to Australia's share, totalling $200m, to the Association's seventh replenishment, covering the period 1985 to 1987 which has been authorised previously by the International Development Association (Further Payment) Act 1984.

Established in 1960, the International Development Association is the concessional lending arm of the World Bank. It provides interest free long term loans to the poorest developing countries to promote their development. The resources of the Association come mainly from subscriptions by the industrialised countries stretched in periodic general replenishments. The total of only $US9 billion achieved in the seventh replenishment of the Association's resources was viewed by Australia and most other donors as gravely inadequate. This amount meant that there would be a considerable reduction in the funds available to the world's poorest countries, at a time when the the situation of many, particularly those of sub-Saharan Africa, is extremely serious. Australia's further and voluntary contribution of $A60m to the Association during its current replenishment period would assist not only sub-Saharan countries, but also developing countries in other regions.

As I said in opening these remarks, the Opposition supports this Bill. As in the other place, the Opposition in the Senate is concerned about the questions which are being raised and the concerns that there are in the Australian community about the effectiveness of some of these international agencies and some of the projects which are undertaken. We suggest to the Government that it would be valuable if it could report to the Parliament on the use of these moneys, in particular, on the effective use of these moneys. I do not suggest that necessarily should be done as part of this debate, but rather that the Government should take cognisance of the doubts which are raised from time to time about the effectiveness of some agencies for international relief.

The Government should make out a case to the public for continued support by Australia of measures which I am sure have the broad support of the Australian community. I do not think there is any doubt that the Australian community believes that Australia should contribute to the relief of international distress and suffering. Any doubts which exist are in the area of whether the considerable efforts which are made are effective. It is unhelpful in the long term if those doubts are allowed to run without the Government addressing them. With that suggestion to the Government, I simply make clear our support for this additional contribution by Australia and, therefore, our support for this Bill.