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Australian aid policy

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rvo^j^* D a t e 2 7 November 1 9 7 T H E HON. A N D R E W P E A C O C K M.P. "" AUSTRALIAN AID POLICY „ < & >

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Andrew Peacock, said today that in undertaking to increase the level of Australian .aid to 0.7% of C.NP within the life of the next Parliament, Mr Whitlam had made vet another promise that he ,

could not and would not keep.

He was guilty of playing cynical politics with the urgent needs of the poorer peoples of the world.

Performance is a better guide than promises. In its first year in office - 197 3 - the Whitlam Governraent's aid programme amounted to 0.44%, the lowest level for many years. In the so-called Hayden Budget, of which the Labor Party is so proud,the aid programme was actually cut. So much for the- march towards the goal of 0.7%.

Characteristically, Mr Whitlam sees the aid question simply in terms of throwing money at the problem. There is no concern about the quality of aid. Yet this is crucial.

Papua New Guinea is the main recipient of Australian aid, and it is instructive to contrast the handling of this aid by the two Governments. . The Whitlam Government subjected the Government of Papua New Guinea to an annual haggle over aid - a haggle which was not only insensitive and humiliating, but which made forward planning impossible.

The Liberal-National Country Party Government has neded this. We 'nave not only increased aid to Papua New Guinea - substantially, but wo have made a five year commitment of aid which will allow for forward planning in Port Moresby. We have made provisions for additional amounts annually to take account

of changing circumstances. We have ended Australian involvement in Papua New Guinea's budget-making process. The Government of Papua New Guinea has repeatedly expressed its appreciation of the stops.

The same attention to the quality - and quantity - of aid is apparent in the other two regimes where Australia's responsibility is greatest. We have introduced a three year $60 million aid programme to the South Pacific - a four-fold increase over the previous three years under Labor. We have announced a $260 million aid programme for ASLAN - again a multi-year commifment. We have moved to untie aid to allow ASEAN

suppliers to compete in the provision of materials and equipment for Australian aid projects. We have increased assistance for local costs associated with aid projects. .

All tills is performance, not promise. The record shows that, on the aid question as on so many others, Mr Whitlam is a man of words not deeds.

In terms of both quantity and quality Australia's total aid effort is now one of-the best in the world.