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Tuesday, 7 June 1994
Page: 1426


Senator HARRADINE (7.05 p.m.) —I also wish to speak about the annual report of the Treasurer (Mr Willis) entitled, Australia and the Asian Development Bank 1993. This is not a very happy report. For example, on page 2, it states:

The Australian executive director was critical of the 1994 administrative budget and abstained on the vote for the budget because of our earlier opposition to increases in staff salaries and benefits which account for 70 per cent of the Bank's administrative expenditure.

Interestingly, that statement is made on page 2. But on page 1 it says that Australia has supported a general capital increase in the bank and the Treasurer has cast his vote in favour of the proposed resolution for a general capital increase. That is very interesting. One really should ask why Australia has done that. It is quite clear that a greater percentage of Australia's aid budget is going to multilateral international financial institutions, including the Asian Development Bank, without a good examination of its effectiveness or legitimacy, or the bank's commitment to human rights issues.

  Let us look at the effectiveness of the programs and projects. Page 2 states that the post-evaluation carried out in 1993 covered 26 projects, 38 per cent of which were found to be either partly successful or unsuccessful. Later, the report states:

On a cumulative basis, of the 425 post-evaluated project programs classified at the end of 1993, 60 per cent were generally successful, 29 per cent partly successful and 11 per cent unsuccessful.

So 40 per cent were partly successful or unsuccessful. That is not a very good total. And this is based on the bank's own post-evaluation of its projects.

  I now turn to the statements that were made in the bank's report about sustainable development and population policies. Quite frankly, it appears obvious that the Asian Development Bank has simply assumed, falsely, that population growth in the South Pacific island developing member countries is the problem. Clearly, that is a defeatist and unfair assumption. It is unfair to the people of the South Pacific, including the people of Papua New Guinea. The Asian Development Bank, supported by AIDAB, is spending a considerable sum of money on population control activities in Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific, designed to meet the demands of government targets or demographically designed programs.

  I want to say here and now that, despite what honourable senators may have read in the press, the key finding of the inquiry that was recently undertaken was not that the priority was population programs but that, if governments seek to improve the economic position of the poor, the largest and quickest impact will come from the most direct policy instruments available. Amongst such instruments are policies to increase access of the poor to land, credit, public infrastructure and services, particularly education and health. I seek leave to continue my remarks.

  Leave granted; debate adjourned.