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Tuesday, 10 April 1973
Page: 1279


Mr BURY (Wentworth) -! also rise to support this Bill which has an interesting genesis. It goes back some years originally to the missions sent by the International Bank which at that time recommended particularly the building of a road from the coast at Lae up to Goroka to open up the inner highland region which contains about one-half of the population of Papua New Guinea. This advice and consultation resulted in the building of a gravel road as far as Goroka. It was opened in 196S. This proposal will update and improve the Goroka highway and the other highway to the Mekeo , area, giving access to the Port Moresby market. The resulting economic expansion which should follow from the opening up and improvement of these 2 highways should make a very marked difference to the economy of Papua New Guinea.

In September 1972 the Asian Development Bank reviewed the project, examined it and approved the granting of these loans. Papua New Guinea entered the Asian Development Bank in 1971. It was the 36th member. So far no-one has mentioned the importance from the point of view of Papua New Guinea of its being admitted and becoming ah independent member of that organisation. Towards the end of last year a committee appointed by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs examined this question of Australia's overseas aid. Many of the meetings were chaired by the Present Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison). One of the recommendations made by this body was that an increasing proportion of Australia's overseas aid should be given in multilateral form and relatively less in bilateral form. This is very apposite to the loan we are discussing. The Asian Development Bank, apart from its importance to Papua New Guinea and apart from' Papua New Guinea's importance to us, has a very direct importance to Australia's interests and participation in the South East Asian area. We are interested in a general way in the success of that institution and its workings which are in our interests in promoting the development of our own area. Particularly in these countries it brings a multilateral treatment to their problems.

There are considerable practical advantages in this approach. As it is a multilateral iii :titution which is dealing with these matters, there is no question of a particular country following its own bilateral interests. It becomes an institution which is run and gradually accumulates experienced staff which knows the problems of the particular area concerned. Besides having this general expertise, it is able to assess properly the priority that should be given to different projects. This, of course, does not necessarily flow from the bilateral form of aid. Countries normally are interested in a particular area and in putting forward their own point of view in that area. So finance and help of this kind from the Asian Development Bank has a value to Papua New Guinea in its own right and in the Bank's own right, which is helpful from everybody's point of view. Also it has considerable advantages over bilateral support directly from Australia or from any other single country.

This multilateral approach to developmental problems was dealt with very well in a supplement on Australia's foreign aid in the March edition of the Bank of New South Wales circular. That publication pointed out something which was emphasised by the member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development - that is, of untying particular bilateral aid so that it is not available in specific countries only, and moving over gradually and progressively to a multilateral approach towards aid. Aid which comes from multilateral institutions does not excite all the odium of colonialism and the peddling of particular interests which in the past have attached themselves to many aspects of foreign aid. There is attached to the totality of this matter another aspect of interest which should be supported by Australia. The Asian Development Bank should be well known but, if anything, it could be accused of hiding its light under a bushel. I will read what is said in the Bank's 1971 report. The last available report is for the year 1971. Not even a single copy of the 1972 report has yet reached the office of the Treasurer let alone the Parliamentary Library so that it may be available generally to honourable members. In the 1971 report this remark is made by the President:

The ability to raise funds in the capital markets is, of course, of vital importance to the Bank's future and the foundations of future borrowing on a sustained and more substantial scale were further strengthened during 1971.

The report goes on to say that the Bank borrowed $12 1.7m in that year, just over SI 01m of which was in 5 public issues which were made in Austria, Belgium, Japan, Switzerland and the United States, plus private placement of $20m with central banks and government agencies in the region.

Since we have now begun to talk about our own credit status, our good payments position and so forth, it is high time that the Australian market was open to the Asian Development Bank for the raising of loans and the floating of bonds. In fact, this is one of the recommendations contained in the report on foreign aid presented by the Joint Committee on

Foreign Affairs. I hope that the influence of the ex-members of that Committee, such as the Minister for Science and External Territories and those who are now in the Cabinet, will be brought to bear in this direction because this is some way in which we can help the Asian Development Bank and in so doing help ourselves, because the advantage of this process would not only help to divert resources to the Asian Development Bank but also operations in an area in which we have a very close interest. In the process it does mean too that the Asian Development Bank, its bonds and its operations, become known to the people who operate systematically and regularly in the Australian money market. If the bonds and operations become well known in Australia, this will not only improve the knowledge that our own people have of the Asian Development Bank but it will also interest people, far and wide, in economic development in our region. This is a step which I think most of us who look at the whole of this objectively will agree that Australia is now ready to take.

Two years ago I had the pleasure when attending the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank to promise in the name of Australia a gift of $10m to the special funds of this institution, the special funds being provided to furnish soft loans of the kind of which the loan in this legislation is an example. As the Treasurer in the next few weeks will be taking off for the next annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank, I suggest to him and to the Cabinet that one of best ways of bringing to this meeting some goods news from Australia would be to tell the Bank that henceforth the Australian capital market will be open to float bonds of the Asian Development Bank. If the Treasurer wants further confirmation of this, I refer him again to the report on foreign aid presented by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs. If he looks at this report and considers the whole question I suggest that this is something that he could do. In the process I am sure that it would provide the very welcome news to the other countries who are members, and the Bank itself, that the Australian market henceforth will be open to their borrowing.







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