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Tuesday, 16 March 1965

Senator COHEN (VICTORIA) - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. I refer to a recent reported statement by Dr. H. G. Furnell, a leading Melbourne gynaecologist, made on behalf of a team of surgeons at St. Vincent's Hospital, that the Government had refused to act on his recommendation to send a surgical team to Indonesia. I ask the Minister: (1) Did Dr. Furnell say, in support of his suggestion, that whatever the political differences between the two countries, Australia could help Indonesia in the medical training field and that there was in Indonesia a serious shortage of equipment, doctors and nurses? (2) Did the Department reject Dr. Furnell's recommendation on the ground that no request had been received from the Indonesian Government and that such a request was necessary under the Colombo Plan? (3) Will the Minister undertake to review the Department's decision in this matter and try to find a way, quite apart from the Colombo Plan, whereby Australia can make a genuine humanitarian contribution to the health problems of our near neighbour, Indonesia?

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