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Thursday, 11 April 1957

Mr IAN ALLAN (Gwydir) .- I do not intend to discuss the foreign policy of the Opposition to-night because it is quite plain, as one listens to speeches of the Opposition, that it is a policy of appeasement. All sensible people know that it is impossible to appease a totalitarian power. In advocating such a policy, the Opposition is out of step with our friends overseas - Great Britain, the United States of America and France - and, what is more important, it is out of step with the views of all thinking Australians. It is an irresponsible and mischievous policy and I intend to disregard it to-night. Instead, I should like to direct the attention of the House to what I consider are the most vital points in foreign affairs as they affect Australia. In March of last year, during the debate on international affairs, I made three points. I said, first, that I considered that at that time there was a chink in our armour of defensive pacts, and, secondly, that our system of granting aid to under-developed countries was faulty, because it allowed some of those countries to bid the West against Russia. My third point was that in our training of technicians from the Asian countries we were dealing with too narrow a section of their communities.

The first point that I made last year has been brought home to us by the tragedy of Suez. There was, as it happened, a chink in our armour, a gap in our system of defensive treaties in the Middle East, which led to the events of last October in the Middle East. Since that time, the United States of America has realized the necessity for drawing our bonds closer together, and we have closed that gap. But I believe that we will not satisfactorily complete the job of defending the Western nations and the smaller, newer democracies against Communist imperialism until we link all these treaties together, or, at least the major ones - Nato, the Baghdad pact and Seato - by a common planning authority. If we did that, we should be well on the way to establishing a system of world government. We should then have the power to make laws and do what the United Nations now cannot do - enforce them. I believe that by establishing a common planning authority and linking together all our military alliances with Western and Asian countries, we should have a very considerable backstop to the United Nations organization. There is no need to do away with the United Nations. It is an admirable sounding board, but we all know its limitations. It cannot make laws, still less enforce them.

Reverting to the second of the aspects of foreign policy which I mentioned last year, the granting of aid to the underdeveloped countries, we saw what happened in Suez when finance for Nasser's Aswan Dam was refused. President Nasser seized the Suez Canal. Prior to that, he had been bidding Russian aid against Western aid. He was, in one sense, compelled to take the action that he did and bring down disaster upon the countries of the Middle East. In considering this question of the aid which all the Western countries are giving in one form or another at the present time to the under-developed countries, it is important that we should know clearly our objective. We cannot allow small countries like Egypt to outbid us with Russian aid. We cannot afford to have another Egypt in the small countries round the perimeter of Russia.

More than that, we really want to make the money that we are giving to the small countries serve a useful purpose. Surely the most useful purpose that it can serve is to raise living standards in the underdeveloped countries. That is one way in which we can most effectively stop Communist expansion into those countries. If that is our objective - and it is the only reasonable objective - we should realize the consequences of giving aid in its present form. We should realize also that the population pattern in Asia is changing very rapidly, and, consequently, that the aid we are giving to the Asian countries is completely wasted and does not have the result of raising general living standards in those countries.

The Colombo plan countries now have a population of some 650,000,000. The present rate of increase is 10,000,000 a year, but that rate is accelerating as we move in with health protection measures and reduce the death rate in the Asian countries. This stupendously rapid rate of increase has been described as " explosive ". That is a fair description. The tensions that are being produced are extremely strong. These countries are so crowded now that practically all the arable land is in use. It is estimated that in forty years' time the present population will have doubled. By giving these countries aid in its present form we are simply trying to bail out the ocean with a bucket. The effort is completely wasted.

We receive a great deal of literature about the Colombo plan but not one of the publications that I have read has contained a suggestion of how to deal with this serious population problem. They do not hint that by building dams, supplying railway cars, and so on, we are not really helping to solve the population problem or to raise living standards. We are, in fact, simply enlarging the problem and making it harder to cure eventually.

A very good example of what happens when aid is given to a country without thought of the consequences is to be found in the little island of Puerto Rico in the West Indies. That island was acquired by the United States in 1898, and has been sustained by it ever since. In 1935, the United States decided to engage in some really serious developmental work to try to raise the standard of living of the Puerto Ricans. As a result it increased the amount of money it had been allocating to aid Puerto Rico, and in the last twenty years it has spent £500,000,000 there. The immense resources of the United States were made available to develop this island, but the result has been that whereas in 1900 there were 1,000,000 people living in poverty on Puerto Rico, there are now 2,000,000 people living there in poverty. As a sort of by-product of this effort, about 500,000 Puerto Ricans are now living on the United States mainland and are creating first-rate racial tensions. We do not want that kind of result from our aid to Asia. I believe that we must give this matter serious thought and that we must re-examine our methods of giving aid to these under-developed countries.

The famous Krupps armament firm in Germany last year advanced a plan, which, apparently, has been lost in the archives of the United States State Department, because it has not been heard of since. That plan proposed that, instead of granting aid from government to government as we do now, we should grant a proportion at least to private firms, or syndicates of private firms, in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France to permit those firms to establish business houses and expand technical training in the under-developed countries of SouthEast Asia. I can think of no better way of achieving our objectives than by adopting that plan. In granting aid from government to government, we very often find that we are propping up a government or a regime long beyond its useful life, or. possibly, a corrupt government or one that could not stand in the face of public opinion if it had to run the gauntlet of the polls in the ordinary way. Further, by expending these funds under government schemes tor training in the Western countries technicians and skilled men who will return to their own countries and become government planners, we are, in effect, laying the foundation for socialism in the countries ot South-East Asia.

Mr Clarey - What is wrong with that?

Mr IAN ALLAN - Socialism provides no defence against communism. That is quite plain. The only defence against the encroachment of communism and subversion is to be found in trade and commerce. Since private enterprise brought this great civilization of ours to its present peak of achievement, it is through private enterprise that we should be aiding the underdeveloped countries of Asia. I commend that thought to the Government, and urge it to ensure that the proposal made by the Krupps organization is given the consideration that it warrants by the governments of the West.

It is easy to give aid in the present form fi om government to government, and it is highly dangerous. But even worse, it is completely futile, because it does not solve the problem of raising general living standards in Asia, lt merely accentuates it. It is true that even the proposal that I have mentioned would not raise general living standards in Asia as we would wish, but I believe that it would raise standards for a substantial section of the Asian people much more rapidly than any other means would permit. We could start in a small way by improving the standards of a relatively small section of an Asian community, such as workers in industry and on farms, and from that beginning we could proceed gradually to improve the lot of the rest of the community concerned, until eventually all would enjoy reasonably high living standards. I believe that that method would be far more practicable than the one that we have adopted so far, and I urge the Government to give it earnest consideration.

This matter is vital for the freedom of the countries of South-East Asia, and for Australia. We scarcely realize the rale at which the population of Asia is increasing. We must do something about Asian living standards urgently, or we shall lose the race, and shall find, within the next generation, communism and war on Australia's doorstep. We must tackle this problem seriously, and, what is more important, in the right way and without delay. If this pressing problem is not solved within the next few years, we cannot expect the countries of South-East Asia to preserve their democratic and free way of life.

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