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JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE - 28/04/2010 - Australia's relationship with the countries of Africa
Joint committee
Wednesday, 28 April 2010
Australia's relationship with the countries of Africa

CHAIR (Senator Forshaw) —Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I will declare open this public hearing into Australia’s relationship with the countries of Africa. This is the fourth day of our public hearings for this inquiry and today we have a particular focus on Australia’s aid to African countries and Australian business activity in Africa. We also have appearing distinguished former high commissioners to African countries.

Australia intends to increase its official development assistance to Africa from $101 million in 2007-08 to $163.9 million in 2009-10. As well, this aid will focus on assisting African countries to achieve their millennium development goals. Evidence before the committee is that most countries in Africa are unlikely to meet their MDG targets by 2015. Several witnesses have called for the refocussing of Australia’s research on Africa, with the creation of a centre of excellence on African studies or an Africa research institute. As well as exploring aid issues the committee will explore the details of these suggestions for a centre of excellence or an institute and how that may benefit Australia’s relationship with Africa.

The committee has so far met in Canberra on three days, is meeting today in Sydney and will be further meeting in Melbourne for two days next week. We do not have any representatives from the media here, do we? I just put on the record that they need to observe the usual requirements to report fairly and accurately the proceedings of the committee. I also understand that A-PAC, the TV channel, is intending to film and broadcast today’s proceedings, as is the usual case when we meet in Parliament House.

[9.05 am]