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Tuesday, 15 March 2005
Page: 10

Senator NETTLE (1:09 PM) —I move the Greens amendment, which was circulated last night on sheet 4541:

(1)    Page 11, after clause 12 (after line 8), insert:

12A  Expenditure limited to grants

                  Money expended under this Act is to be advanced by way of grant and not by way of loan.

I spoke to this amendment in my second reading contribution. This amendment ensures that half of the package that is proposed to be put forward as a loan is given as a grant. The reasons, which I went through in my second reading contribution, relate to the debt crisis that exists for countries like Indonesia. Developing countries are paying $13 in debt repayments for every $1 that they receive in aid. Australia’s contribution in supporting Indonesia, which we welcome and support, can best be delivered as a straight donation rather than as a loan which exacerbates the debt that Indonesia currently faces and the decisions that Indonesian government officials need to make all the way down the path about whether or not to service debt repayments or provide services for their people.

I have acknowledged already the reluctant acceptance by the Australian government of the Paris Club’s decision about debt rescheduling. It was not debt forgiveness. It simply puts off that process. I recognise that, in this contribution, there is an interest-free loan and other measures that the government has taken to ameliorate the worst aspects of this, but we are still contributing to Indonesia’s debt crisis, which is having a very significant effect on the ground for the people of Indonesia—people who are trying to get themselves out of poverty as a result of the enormous debt burden that Indonesia has to repay developed countries. It is the Australian Greens’ belief that this $1 billion as a package in tsunami assistance should be delivered in the form of straight aid and should not be delivered in the form of loans. That is what our amendment seeks to do.