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Thursday, 1 December 1960

Mr OSBORNE (Evans) (Minister for Air) . - This has been an interesting debate on an important subject. The importance which the Government and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) attach to this bill has been demonstrated by the fact that the Prime Minister himself introduced it. He has had to leave the debate in other hands, and I am concluding it. The facts have been stated fully. There is no disagreement on either side of the House as to the nobility of purpose that lies behind this scheme, nor is there any disagreement on the great hopes which it holds for the people of the part of the world affected by the scheme and especially the hope of wider agreement and understanding between them in the future. It is most satisfying to be able to take part in the passage of a measure of this sort which commands the unquestioned support of both sides of the House.

In the course of his able speech the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) warned us not to be complacent about the sum of approximately £7,000,000 which we are agreeing to spend. I agree with him. We have nothing to be complacent about, but on the other hand - and I mention this only in case what the honorable member for Fremantle said may be misunderstood - it is no inconsiderable sum. When we look at the amounts to be spent by the other subscribing countries, we see that Australia is making a very substantial contribution. The amounts to be contributed by the different participants are £7,000,000 in Australian currency by Australia, £10,000,000 by Canada, £13,500,000 by West Germany, £1,250,000 by New Zealand, £26,000,000 by the United Kingdom and £78,000,000 by the United States of America. No matter by what yardstick it is measured, whether it be the size of the population or the quantum of the national wealth, Australia's contribution pro rata on either basis is certainly not less than that of the other contributors.

Several times during the course of this debate it has been said that this generation is faced with many tasks related to the development of our own country. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) gave a long list of projects on which we might embark in the future. No doubt future generations of Australians will undertake these tasks, or some of them, but I think one of the most significant points about the present period of Australian life is that our people have accepted responsibilities that go far beyond the bounds of our own country. We have accepted a responsibility to contribute as well as we are able to the welfare of other countries in our own part of the world at the same time as we accept responsibility for the rapid development of our own country and the expansion of its population. The unanimity of feeling which has been expressed on both sides of the House in this debate, in particular, and the bill itself are to my mind significant examples of the acceptance by this present generation of Australians of a responsibility that extends far beyond the bounds of our own country.

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