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Wednesday, 14 October 1964

Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) . - I desire to refer to economic defence support assistance to members of the . South East Asia Treaty Organisation and aid to India. I wish to refer also to defence services not under the control of the Department of External Affairs. I ask . whether we are dealing now with the question of aid to India.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - We are dealing with Divisions Nos. 165 to 240.

Senator CAVANAGH - Very well. I shall have an opportunity later to discuss these matters. I refer to Division No. 165, sub-division 4, item 01, which relates to special overseas visits. I suppose this relates to visits overseas by members of this Parliament under the auspices of the Department of External Affairs. Senator Maher and I went on such a trip this year to Pakistan, India and Ceylon. I mention this matter to direct the Minister's attention to the fact that there seems to be some laxity about arrangements for these delegations that go overseas.

Senator Gorton - Delegations such as that on which you went are not paid for by the Department of External Affairs. They do not come under these estimates.

Senator CAVANAGH - Perhaps the Minister could tell me what department is concerned?

Senator Gorton - The Prime Minister's Department.

Senator CAVANAGH - Under the same division J refer to sub-division 5, item 13, United Nations - Cost of Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. The proposed appropriation is £44,800. Last year we expended £50,136. Will the Minister say how long it is thought we shall continue with a peacekeeping force in Cyprus and whether the proposed reduction in. expenditure indicates that the need for such a large force will not be as paramount this year as it was in previous years? May we expect expenditure for this purpose to dwindle over the years? I refer now to sub-division 6, item 01, Colombo Plan - Economic Development. I refer also to the next two items which relate to technical assistance under the Colombo Plan and to the Special Commonwealth African Assistance Plan. The sub-division also makes provision for contributions to the World Food Programme, the Stabilization Fund, Laos, and for a number of relief plans relating to other countries. I refer to this subject because of the multiplicity of the forms of assistance that we give and I ask whether our assistance is going in the best direction for the nations concerned. When in India I saw evidence of a lot of assistance that had been given under the Colombo Plan, including assistance given by Australia. It would seem that a country seeking assistance applies for help to establish a certain project and that if the countries to whom the application is directed agree to support the project the money is forthcoming. However, there would seem to be very little inquiry about the best way in which such countries can be assisted. I do not suggest any curtailment of assistance for the development of the Asian countries. Possibly a greater degree of assistance should be given. But 1 do not think that we should be expected to contribute continually as a relief organisation. We should try to ascertain whether the assistance we are giving is used to the best advantage to enable these countries to become self supporting.

When I was in Bombay I saw a gift that had come from the Austraiian Government. It took the form of stainless steel milk storage cubicles and mobile milk bars to take milk to localities where the population assembles from' time to time. The idea was to add flavourings to the milk to encourage a greater use of milk at a time when the country was not producing sufficient milk to supply householders. The quality of this equipment was a tribute to the manufacturers and to Australia generally. Obviously this was an unfortunate gift, because it was to be used to distribute a commodity that was in short supply. If the gift had taken the form of agricultural machinery or scientific help of some description, it might well have hastened the day when the country would not need the assistance we are now giving to it. We discovered on numerous occasions during our overseas trip that help given to agricultural scientists who came to Australia under the Colombo Plan or assistance that has been given under the Freedom From Hunger Campaign has been very much appreciated and has been of greater assistance to these Asian countries than gifts for the distribution of commodities such as I have mentioned. I ask whether consideration should not be given to combining the various avenues of assistance so that we could investigate the best methods by which to help these countries in Asia.

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