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Address to the "Australian agricultural scientists and Asian rural development" conference, Victorian branch of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science, Melbourne



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, / | ; : Υ J m m E H T by

f 1 * * * * ® ^ I I Μ tHEMINISTER FOR \ 1 PRIMARY INDUSTRY *4yJ 1 ^ / t l l THE RT. HOH. iAN SINCLAIR M , \ '' ' l kg, - ~ Ί . rS2h % ' ft?'®·1* C A N B E R R A

30 July,. 1970,

• ADDRESS BY THE RT. H O N . ΪΛΝ SINCLAIR, MINISTER FOR PRIMARY INDUSTRY, TO THJS “AUSTRALIAN AGRICULTURAL SCIENTISTS AND ASIAN RIUWL DEVELOPMENT" CONFERENCE, VICTORIAN BRANCH OF THE y AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE, MELBOURNE, 8,0(VM, MONDAY, 30 JULY, 1979,

When the present Government was re-elected in 1978 one of the

principal foreign policy changes was the renewed emphasis given

to Australia's association with Asia,

It was our belief that during the Labor Government clays

Australia's role in world affairs was magnified, anti the

geographic, social, and economic significanoe -o£ Austral!a.·in

the Asian .theatre integrated, .

Indeed, it was in part because of this emphasis that there lias

been some comment about our policy with ASEAN countries, cheap

air fares, and quota and tariff levels,

Contrary to the presentation of Austral j a 1 s attitude we have

consistently sought in every forum to improve the medium and

long term position of our Asian neighbours, .

Through the cheaper air fare regime, without doubt there will

bo many more .Asians able to travel to Australia, as well as

Australians to Asia,

Through concessions offered to goods from lesser developed

countries equally there are significantly enhanced market .

needss oppoxtuniti.es from this region as witnessed by the;

tremendous growth in trade to Australia from these countries.

while their economies arc changing, political and social turmoil

of the last 25 years has left, a marked impact on many countries

in the region, c some who were net exporters of foodstuffs today

are net. importers.

ό3 y m i 3 cantly, we need t o help t.he countries of Asia end

Oceania towards jtrgnrovJIng ugricia tura! productivity both to .

?aeet thorr own food needs end to meet the. chronic balance of

payments position which many lace,

Ret ween 1900 and 1975 the demand fox food in developing countries

has risen at an annual rate of 3,3 percent, whilst food ..

production in such countries has increased anmmliy at the rate

of 2.6 percent, *rhis demand/production gap is the essential

cause of the.iood problem in developing countries, particularly

in' the last 3 5 years.

However, the granaries of the developed nations cannot be? expected

to, .and -should not attempt to, - meet the; future global increase in

demand for food grains, - .. ...

it is in the mutual in tores t of · a l l ' nations, both developing and

developed, to increase agricultural production in the developing

countries, · - . . . "

This conference today has addressed itself to this objective in

general, and in particular to the opportunAties for Australia to

make her contribution to rural development in Asia. The

convenors are t.o be conmiehrlecl for both the subject, of the

conference and for arranging a gathering of such qualified people.

Indeed, Australia's relations with the countries of Asia represent

one of the most important aspects of Australia's foreign policy.

Of all the developing countries of the Third World, our relations

with those of Asia are of the greatest consequence to us,

Australia shares with many of the Asian countries a vital interest

in maintaining stability, independence, growth and development xn

the region,

- 3 -

- ■ ‘ he mutual commercial and strategic depe udςm c e f>elwcοn Austral ;i.a

c,nd Asia dictates that we avail ourselves of every opportunity

to oo*-operate and collaborate with our Asian neighbours,

Australia can play her part in assist inti sustained economic

growth and development in Asia by giving aid, by exporting

technology arid skills such as ayricultural know-how, and by a

two-way flow of trade, ...... ... -

The· provision of food aid, however, is not the answer to the

problem in the long term.· While increased food aid obviates

immediate suffering in countries; where initial food shortages

periodical!y occur, it- should b e emphasised that some forms of

food aid can result in inhibiting production and encouraging

recipient countries to postpone the adoption of appropriate

policies. __ :_

The most promising long term option open to developing countries

with large food deficits is to produce much more of their own

food,

a number of developing countries as well as the major financing

institutions such as the World Bank and the A si an Development

Bank have- recognised the importance of agriculture in the y""

development process.

The Government rococmiscs the problems facing the developing

countries in the? region. Perhaps the greatest assistance, wc

can render is in providing appropriate agricultural technology

to promote production increases, ....

The Government has responded in a number of ways to the

agricultural problems facing the countries of Asia, The work

of the Australian Development Assistance Bureau in supporting .

the independent efforts of countries in Asia to achieve economic

and social development has been covered in detail this morning.

4 -

You will also be aware of the work o£ the C.S.l.K.O. in

development assistance. The? establishment of the Centre for

Jntornatjorsal kosearch Co - opera t i cm should co-ordinate the

work o£;-O.S.l:.R-,o« in this area, in col labors tion with .

Universities and State Agricultural Departments,

Λ ready market for Australfan agricultural expertise in Asia

is provided by international financial. institutions .such as

the World hanl:./. the Asian Development. Bank· -and .the. United .

Nations Development Programme?, .

Australia's eumulative commitment to these institutions since

1949 now exceeds $US2 billion Wiiich obv.xoxtsl.y tjual.ifios us to

c;ompete for the provision of goodn and. services, it is tail'

to say, however, that to date wo h a v d not obtained our share

of the business generated -by these b o d i e s , this applies as

much to the agricultural area as any other,

The Government devotes a relatively high level of resources to

assist consultants to enter the international marketplace,

Those services are aval 3able to agricultural scientists just

as much as they are to other professional consulting bodies.

Another aspect of exchanged technology is the training, of

rural scientists. ugronomists, veterinarians, and agricultura.'i

technicians in Australian tertiary institutions, The

Government is final y consult ted to providing educational

cipport uni ties in Australia at secondary and· tertiary level,

particularly for students from Asi cm countries,

'ike? knowledge they acquire i s then able to be translated to

their own environment. In hhis respect there is considerable

advantage for an Asian technician in training in the Austral ian

environment, in tropical agriculture. Austral.isn knowledge is

equal to that of any other country.

Moreover, the sine of the Australian farmer's operation in many

instances and the degree or his capital sophistication makes an

Australian experience frequently directly relative to the needs

of Asian countries, . ' .

in this respect 1 was delighted to hear of the visit a few

weeks ago by two cotton growers iron the Namoi Valley wlio had

boon invited by China, the third largest cotton producing

ooxmtry, to advise on the clcvcbLopment of now areas for cotton

production in Manchuria and Western china, .

ΊΨίΟ Government has recently established the Australian Overseas

Projects Corporation, - The Corporation1 s primary 'Objective is

to as si sr Australian 1i rms to compete for overseas development

projects through, providing support, for those already operating

in a particular area, by sponsoring firms attempting to

penetrate a new field, and by encouraging the formation of

Australian consortia to undertake large arid complex projects overseas.

1'he Corporation will identify and evaluate project opportunities,

bring together, from both public and private sources, the

expertise Australia has to offer and assist consortia in

negotiations with overseas clients, With Government approval

the Corporation also has the power to act as a primary

contractor when the eircumstances warrant it.

The corporation will help achieve an increased Australian

involvement in major projects which require a rnultidisplinary

consultancy approach> particularly by enabling them to become

involved in the initial stages of such projects. .

The Government, through the Department of Trade and Resources,

also provides a number of services to Australian professional

consultants in their offshore endeavours, under the Consulting

Cervices feasibility Study Fund eonsideration is given to

requests from Governments and Australian consultants to finance

pre-feasibility and feasibility studios, which would demonstrate

Australian expertise, and introduce them to new areas of work

and put them in a position where; they arc well placed to obtain

follow· on work, This facility applies to the whole range of

consultancy work including small-scale rural projects.

I

h specialist unit within the Department: «1 so advises consultants,

either new to the .field or already active, on the opportunities

available overseas and the procedures which need to be followed

in obtaining new eontracts. The unit maintains close contact

with the Australian Overseas Projects Corporation and the

MirstraIran professional Consultants Council.

Additionally, the facilities of the Export Finance arid insurance

Corporation and the Export Market Development Grants Scheme '

are available to consultants working abroad,.. .

Finally, on the question of our consultants working in Asia, it

should be emphasised that, while many opportunities exist,

competition f rom other countries is j;>articu 1 arly heavy, The

rewards, however, can be considerable, but require a planned

approach on the part of consul bants in collecting information

and marketing their skills and experience.

Ά.comprehensive -list of the opportunities that exist in Asia

for agricultural scientists would also include the work being

clone in the aqricυ 11ura. 1 research institutes being funded by

the Consul tat ive Group in international Agricultural lie search

to which Australia contributes and those established by the Food

and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, and the work

available with nml tin a t i on a 1 corporations, some of which have

extensive projects underway in Asia.

In the policy making area, Australia has contributed by inviting

Papua New Guinea to participate in past Australian Agricultural

Council meetings, since independence, PNG 7ias participated an

this forum at the Ministerial .level by sending a Minister to the

Christchurch meeting of the MAC earlier this year. PNG will

also be represented by a Minister at the Perth meeting of too

AAC■next week, ' .

The MAC provides a basin for continuous consul tat ion between

the commonwealth and the States on the production and marketing

of Australian primary products. -

7

Laist year I attended an ΡΛΟ Region9.1 Ministerial meeting with

most Agricultural Ministers of our region.

Jt is true that, the problems of the developing countries art)

clitfcrenb to those .in Australia and an Asian Agricultural.

Council would not have the same purpose as our own A AC.

The establishment of a Forum Fisheries Agency of the South

Pacific region in- the- last few weeks demonstrates that' there

are areas for continued consultation. Whether under the

auspices of FAO or separately, ϊ believe there is a reason for

Ministers and'~off 1 ciale to' 'regularly confer on particular

problems associated with the development of primary industries

and meeting the changing needs of oxtr respective economies.

In this context it may well bo worthwhile examining the

possibility of .establishing a .Government forum to collate and

consider the agricultural needs of our Asian neighbours.

’ turning briefly-new to some of the rural projects in which

••Australia is involved., there is a wide variety of such projects

ranging from a sheep demonstration farm in the Republic of

Korea to a new South" Wales Departmentrof Agriculture project in

Bangladesh. The latter project si me to improve milk production

by way of veterinary services,- feed storage measures and herd

improvement'methods. ■

The Yaiavon Beol Project in Fiji is concerned with .improving

beef production· toy way of a demonstration farm, small holding

farms and associated roadworks» Jn India, the Indo-Austral A an

Sheep Breeding-Project, concerning the Victorian department of

Agriculture, aims to help establish cross-bred sheep on Indian

farms.

in Fiji., tho M.S.W. Rico Marketing Board is assisting with the

establishment of a rice handling facility, anu in Nepal tho

Australian National, university is conducting a forestry project­

in' Kathmandu Valley involving timber production, svi.v

consei^atjon ..and restoration of forests. .

8

•i‘ hcx'& -are, o£ coxirse, many other private and public forms of

agricultural aid, Through individual consultants, investment

from Australia has been made at a private level in a range of

enterprise^,. - . '

A former Victorian Liberal Member o± Parliament has been

responsible for the introduction of dairy cows into India,

Boot breed societies have .supported the ' export of. breeders to

countries tbroucjhout the region, .

The Australian Dairy Corporation, ...through its subsidiary,

Asia Dairy Industries, has been responsible for setting up

milk, reconstitution plants anti assisting dairy development

throughout- Asia, — .-­

These projects are, of course, apart all together from the

copra, tea. and coffee plantations and the major- development

scene by Australian expatriates in Papua New Guinea and

Oceania generally, / ·

These are Tout a few examples ol Australian projects in Asia

jnvolving.jDot.ti our public, and private sectors,

It needs to be emphasised, however, that "western" technology

and expertise must be" adapted to suit the "eastern" situation,

As members of this audience would know, in this respect the

problems of 1 and ownership are at least as significant in Asia

•as they are anywhere else in the w o r l d ,

Account must be taken of differences, not only in the

agricultural business environments between Australia and Asia,

but also the vast differences in customs ami cultures,

Further to this, I understand that at a recent workshop of your

Institute-in Perth, agricultural scientists highlighted senna of

the weaknesses in Australia’s overseas aid initiatives,

9

it should also bo borne in ntinci that the population'. and food

problems arc closely inteio-xelated and that, both must be

t o c M e d in order to achieve proc tress in either area,

Mgricmltnz'al development in Asia is an ongoing process, just

as it is in Australia, Australia will be involved in rural

"development in Asia indefinitely into the future.

Given the.· Government*.s' support. and the nature o f . the activities

being undertaken by other bodies, agricultural scientists can

confidently .look to career prospects in the Asian area, .

The investment of technology and personnel is a very practical

means of helping the countries of the Asian region to help

themselves.

Jn the long term it also providos a worthwhile means of

consolidating the permanent Australian interest in having a

greater understanding by Australia of Asia, and Asia of

Australia.