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Tuesday, 24 September 1974
Page: 1310

Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania) (Minister for Agriculture) - in reply- On behalf of the Government I compliment Senator Davidson on his remarks. He obviously is concerned about the question of overseas aid. The only comment I wish to make is that I think that in this Parliament there is broad agreement among most members from all parties on the need for the Government to continue the sort of assistance which was being provided by the previous Administration. I have not hesitated in the past to say- I will say it again- that the previous Government was ahead of public opinion in its overseas aid attitude. So too is this Government. The last survey that I saw showed that 92 per cent of Australians opposed any increased aid to developing countries. There is, unfortunately, a degree of resistance to more of Australia's wealth being distributed in this manner.

I believe that the comment that was made by Senator Davidson when he used the term mobilising public opinion' crystallises the matter. We ought to mobilise public opinion. We have a tremendous problem throughout the world where hundreds of millions of people are undernourished. Many of them are completely without hope from the cradle to the grave. That is not a situation any of us should want to see continue. In November this year there will be a major conference in Rome at which the various countries will try to find a means by which to overcome what may be a disaster next year, especially if there is a failure of the northern crops. Therefore, I think that we as a Parliament have to take a fairly united stand. We as a nation have a responsibility to do this. It is not a matter of party politics. I am pleased that the Opposition sees fit to support this measure. I am sure that what we are doing will be appreciated by those who will receive the benefit.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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