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Thursday, 18 August 2005
Page: 332

Mr Rudd asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in writing, on 23 June 2005:

(1)   Can the Minister outline how the aid funding allocated to China is divided up.

(2)   Will there be any new aid initiatives in the area of (a) governance, (b) health, and (c) environment for China; if so, what are they and what sum will they receive.

(3)   Do any of the initiatives include Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs); if so, (a) how many, (b) what are their names, and (c) what roles do they play.

(4)   Do government departments or officials receive funding through Australia’s aid program; if so, which departments or officials receive funding and what is the breakdown of how they allocate their funding.

Mr Downer (Minister for Foreign Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1)   The estimated budget for bilateral development cooperation with China in 2005-06 is $38 million. Estimated sectoral expenditure in 2005-06 is as follows: Governance: approximately 25 per cent of the program, or $9.5 million; Health: approximately 35 per cent of the program, or $13.3 million; Environment: approximately 30 per cent of the program, or $11.4 million; Other activities: approximately 10 per cent of the program, or $3.8 million.

(2)   The Chinese and Australian governments expect to finalise a new country program strategy in August-September 2005. This country program strategy will provide a framework for Australian development cooperation with China from 2006 through to 2010. New aid initiatives will be developed under the three key themes of the strategy, namely governance, health and environment. Details of these new initiatives are still being worked out.

(3)   Since 1997, the aid program has funded a “Human Rights Technical Cooperation Program” (HRTC), through which Australia assists China in the promotion, protection and administration of human rights. The HRTC complements and supports the annual Human Rights Dialogue between Australia and China. Some HRTC activities have involved Chinese non-governmental organisations.

(a)   As of June 2005, three NGOs have been involved in the HRTC.

(b)   The following NGOs have been involved in the HRTC: (i) the United Nations Association of China; (ii) the Foundation for Human Rights Development; and (iii) the All-China Women’s Federation.

(c)   The HRTC provided technical assistance to the United Nations Association of China to implement a “Model UN Commission on Human Rights” in November 2004. This activity helped educate approximately 200 Chinese students on human rights issues. The Foundation of Human Rights Development is working with the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs in the development of democratic management skills within community committees and the delivery of community services. Under the HRTC, a group from the Foundation for Human Rights Development will visit Australia in August 2005 to study Australian approaches in this area and prepare a training program for implementation under subsequent years of the HRTC. The All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF) is an umbrella organisation under the sponsorship of the government. The aim of the ACWF is to “represent and safeguard women’s rights and interests and promote equality between women and men”. Ten HRTC activities have been implemented in collaboration with the ACWF. These activities have supported the ACWF’s efforts to address domestic violence in China, and combat trafficking in women and children.

(4)   The Australian aid program generally does not provide funding directly to partner country government departments or officials. Aid funding is channelled through Australian Managing Contractors or through multilateral organisations, including United Nations organisations and the multilateral development banks. In the China program, there are two exceptions to this general rule. Firstly, the aid program funds a number of scholarships, which enable Chinese officials to study in Australia for 18 months. In 2005-06, 24 such scholarships will be offered. The scholarship entitlement includes a stipend paid to the Chinese officials (currently $18,360 per annum for unaccompanied officials or $25,520 per annum for accompanied officials) plus an establishment allowance (currently $2,193) paid to the Chinese officials at the beginning of the scholarship. Secondly, the aid program through a “Small Activities Scheme” funds a number of grass-roots development activities in China. Funding for this scheme amounts to $1 million per financial year. On average, approximately 20 activities are implemented each year through the scheme. The funding is provided through local offices of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce to Chinese recipient agencies.