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Thursday, 18 October 1956

Mr Clark (DARLING, NEW SOUTH WALES) k asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -

1.   Did the Australian Ambassador in the United States of America protest to the United States Government regarding the concession sale to the Indonesian Government of flour or wheat to the value of £2,000,000?

2.   Has the Minister presented a fleet of buses to the Indonesian Government under the Colombo plan?

3.   Was this the first part of a gift of £2,000,000?

4.   Why was wheat not given to Indonesia and the disposal of Australian primary products assisted instead of supplying buses which could be used in Australia to improve transport facilities?

5.   What proportion of the total value of the gift is represented by overseas currency used for the purchase of components abroad?

6.   To what extent will the total gift affect the overseas trade balance?

Mr Casey - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   On 2nd March, 1956, an agreement was signed between the United States and Indonesia, under which the United States agreed to provide wheat to the value of 5,000,000 dollars, or the flour equivalent, over a period of two years. On 24th April, 1956, the Australian Ambassador in the United States formally protested to the United States Government that the gift would adversely affect Australian sales of flour to Indonesia.

2.   Australia is providing 100 buses to Indonesia as a part of its Colombo plan assistance to that country, at a total cost to Australia of £636,000 (c.i.f.). The buses are designed to improve the Djakarta transport system, and in so doing to assist Indonesia's economic development.

3.   No. As said above, the total cost of 100 buses will be £636,000, which will be spread over the years 1955-56 and 1956-57.

4.   Australia is providing buses which were requested by the Indonesian Government to meet a very urgent transport need in the City of Djakarta, whose population has grown from 500,000 to 3,000,000 in the years since independence. Whenever surpluses of Australian primary products are available, the possibilities of making gifts of flour are always carefully explored. During the past four years Australia has provided assistance in the form of wheat and flour to countries which are members of the Colombo plan. To 30th June, 1956, total Australian expenditure on this form of assistance was £7,200,000.

5.   The landed cost in Australia of the imported component of each bus supplied to Indonesia is £1.921, bringing the total imported component of 100 buses to £192,100.

6.   See answer to 5.

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