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Monday, 15 June 2009
Page: 5859

Mr BOWEN (Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law and Minister for Human Services) (12:36 PM) —in reply—I thank all honourable members who have contributed to this debate. The purpose of the International Monetary Agreements Amendment (Financial Assistance) Bill 2009 is to amend the International Monetary Agreements Act 1947—the IMA Act—to extend the current provisions that enable the Treasurer to lend money or enter into a currency swap with a country in support of an International Monetary Fund program. The amendments extend the current arrangements to include support for the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The amendments will enable Australia to provide a standby loan to Indonesia if needed, as well as to enter into a loan or currency swap with other countries to support World Bank or ADB programs in the future should the need arise. Consistent with the 1998 International Monetary Agreements Amendment Bill, this bill will allow Australia to continue to play its part in international cooperation efforts. It is in Australia’s national interest to support stability and economic recovery, particularly in our region, an issue on which there is an established history of bipartisanship.

The bill also extends the same conditions currently contained in the IMA Act that apply to IMF programs. That is to say, there must be a request by the World Bank or the ADB for Australia’s assistance. The agreement must allow Australia to require repayment if the World Bank or ADB program is suspended or prematurely terminated. The Treasurer must be satisfied that the other countries or international organisations involved will also be providing support to the recipient country as part of the World Bank or ADB program.

Consistent with the IMA Act the bill will continue to require public release and tabling in each house of parliament of a national interest statement relating to an agreement entered into by Australia under the bill. Statements will include a description of the nature and terms of the agreement and set out why it is in the national interest, having regard in particular to foreign policy, trade and economic interests.

The Australian government is tackling the financial crisis both at home and in cooperation with others internationally. This bill will enable Australia to contribute to World Bank and ADB financial assistance programs should the need arise. Provisions contained in the bill will ensure Australia is able to respond quickly to requests to participate in international cooperation efforts during times of crisis and that this assistance is in Australia’s national interest. I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.