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Thursday, 1 December 1960

Mr UREN (Reid) .- The purpose of this bill is to enable the Australian Government to appropriate funds for its contribution of £A6,965,000 under the Indus Basin Development Fund Agreement. The Opposition is pleased to be able to support the Government's proposal. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) have outlined the technical details in the scheme and have made worthy contributions to the debate, but I wish to devote myself to a discussion of the great human and social problems that exist in India and Pakistan.

This scheme is something to be proud of because it is a kind of f food-for-peace scheme. There should be more such contributions, which would be the basis of goodwill between nations, rather than the present immense expenditure upon armaments. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development has played a major part in bringing about agreement between Pakistan and India. To obtain peaceful co-operation between those two nations is a matter of great consequence. We know the problems that followed when Great Britain relinquished control of India, as it then was, and most people who love world unity were disappointed that such a nation had to be partitioned, but the powers that be in those days decided that a division was necessary.

The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), with whom I am pleased to agree on this occasion, referred to the problems confronting Kashmir. Possibly the co-operation between India and Pakistan under this agreement could be the first step towards a solution of the Kashmir problem. We hope, for the sake of world peace and for a feeling of goodwill between men, that the vital Kashmir problem can be solved peacefully.

One feels great hope for the world when one learns about this scheme. In his second-reading speech the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) informed the House of the contributions that will be made by various countries. The honorable member for Fremantle has pointed out that the grants will be made in the currencies of the contributing nations. So that honorable members can more readily understand the contributions that will be made, I shall refer to the amounts in Australian currency. Australia will contribute £6,965,000; Canada £10,157,000; Germany £13,490,000; New Zealand £1,244,000; the United Kingdom £26,153,000; and the United States £78,903,000. In addition the United States will make a loan of 70,000,000 dollars, repayable in rupees, to Pakistan and will contribute to the fund as grants or loans to Pakistan an amount in Pakistan rupees equivalent to 235,000,000 dollars. The International Bank will also make up to 80,000,000 dollars available in a loan to Pakistan. Pakistan undertakes to make available to the fund £440,000 sterling and an amount in rupees equivalent to £9,850,000 sterling. India will also contribute £62,500,000 so honorable members can see that this scheme will be a major contribution to peaceful co-existence and goodwill between India and Pakistan. It has been said that without the cooperation of those two countries in this major and vital undertaking, many thousands of their people would starve.

Australia's contribution of just under £7,000,000 will be spread over a period of twelve years. Our contribution of £180,000 in the first year will be increased to a maximum of £1,000,000 in the fifth year and then decline over the following seven years. A grant of £7,000,000 spread over twelve years is not very large. Although we have many problems within our own country to be solved, we must realize that the real problems of the world exist beyond our shores. In truth, £7,000,000 spread over twelve years is a very small amount - a mere drop in the ocean. I do not wish to be over-political on this subject, but for a long time I have been referring to our wasteful expenditure on armaments. In the last eleven years we have spent about £1,966,000,000 on defence, but in the same period we have contributed only £35,000,000 to the Colombo Plan. Although I am critical of our huge expenditure on defence, I praise wholeheartedly our contribution of £7,000,000 to this foodforpeace scheme. I believe that that £7,000,000 will make a greater contribution to world peace than has the £1,966,000,000 that we have spent on defence, because most of that amount has been spent out of fear. Instead, we should have been trying to find some basis of goodwill between nations.

I should like to see more of these schemes which are designed to assist people in Asia because Australia has a vital role to play in that area. We should assist the underdeveloped countries of Asia to a far greater extern than we have. I am very pleased that on this occasion we are assisting our brothers in Pakistan and India. The honorable member for Fremantle has said that we should not seek to make any political ties with our contribution and that we should not seek any gain from it. We should make the grant with a good heart and in the hope that Pakistan and India, and their people, will prosper.

It has been said that because of differences of opinion between those two countries it has been difficult to settle this scheme. We in Australia should have a look at ourselves. Because of petty jealousies between States, it took 50 years to get the Snowy Mountains scheme operating. India and Pakistan have had their freedom for only a few years so we should not be too smug about the differences that exist between them.

This scheme will attack the real problems of Asia - hunger, poverty and disease - not the comparatively minor political problems. I have just returned from a visit to China, which is a good example of the benefits of co-operation. Putting aside political opinions for a moment, the Soviet is to be commended for what its technicians, and other forms of assistance, have done for China, particularly in relation to the development and control of the Yellow River. The Yellow River scheme is on a par with the Indus Waters scheme. It is wonderful to see a breaking down of differences between nations and one nation assisting another.

I commend the Government for taking the lead and making this contribution to the scheme which will be of great assistance to the people of Pakistan and India. I hope that further grants and other assistance will be made available to those countries. I hope that something can be done in relation to the Mekong valley scheme, which also would play a major part in overcoming the problems of hunger, poverty and disease that exist in Asia.

Mr Dean - We have done something about it.

Mr UREN - I know that we have made a contribution of £100,000, but that is only a drop in the ocean, just as our contribution of £7,000,000, spread over twelve years, is only a drop in the ocean. We must realize that contributions of this kind are a far better investment for Australia than is a wasteful expenditure on armaments. We want to help in the development of those countries and give greater assistance to their peoples without their having to regard themselves as under an obligation to us. In that way we shall gain their goodwill. As the honorable member for Fremantle

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