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Thursday, 10 March 1977
Page: 81

Mr E G Whitlam (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask a question of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. He will remember announcing in Suva S months ago that the Aus.tralian Government would commit $ 15m in bilateral aid to the countries of the South Pacific for the current financial year, and larger amounts in succeeding years, and that it would make a special provision of $500,000 in this and the next 2 years to assist non-government organisations with the cost of development programs in the South Pacific. Is it a fact as has been reported that he has now informed the Australian Council for Overseas Aid that the allocation to those countries has been reduced for this year and that the special provision for the voluntary agencies has been cancelled for this year? If so, when did he inform the recipient governments and organisations of this decision? Also, what amount of aid will in fact now be made available to the governments in this financial year?

Mr PEACOCK (KOOYONG, VICTORIA) (Minister for Foreign Affairs) -The Leader of the Opposition refers to the extensive aid program that I announced last year in Suva, which was a program of $60m running over 3 financial years. That amount is an increase of 300 per cent over the 3-year program approved by his Party when in government. It is the most significant increase in any of our aid programs since the Liberal and

National Country Parties came to government. In regard to the assistance being rendered to the voluntary agencies, I have taken a decision that the same amount of money will flow to them as announced but because the majority of those agencies operate on a calendar year basis and not on a financial year basis I am allocating $300,000 of the $500,000 from July of this year through until June of next year, to be divided into $150,000 between July and the end of this calendar year and a further $150,000 between January and the end of June next calendar year. The remaining $200,000 of the $500,000 referred to by the Leader of the Opposition will be allocated for the first part of the succeeding calendar year- in other words, the latter part of the next financial year. So the amount stands. The first half of the $300,000 allocation will be paid this calendar year from July to December, the second half will be paid from January to June next year, and the remaining $200,000 of the $500,000 will be allocated in the latter part of the financial year 1978-79, namely, the first part of the calendar year 1979. That may sound very complicated but it is simple. It is being related to the calendar year rather than to the financial year.

Mr SPEAKER -I call the honourable member for Denison.

Mr E G Whitlam (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) -What about the government allocations?

Mr PEACOCK -The government funds -

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The question was asked and the answer finished. I have called another question. I call the honourable member for Denison.

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