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Tuesday, 26 November 1974
Page: 2711

Senator POYSER (VICTORIA) - Did the Minister for Foreign Affairs see the recent 'Four Corners' program dealing with the chronic food shortage in Bangladesh? Will the Government provide assistance to Bangladesh to help alleviate the famine conditions now existing in that country?

Senator WILLESEE -I did see the 'Four Corners' program on Bangladesh on Sunday night. Bangladesh is one of those countries that have been hard hit by the recent price rises for oil, fertilisers and food. Bangladesh now finds it difficult to finance grain import requirements, and the gap was further widened by grain losses in the August floods. It was estimated that at one stage in the August floods probably 80 per cent of the country was under water. The Australian Government has responded promptly to the Bangladesh crises with the following assistance: Chartered aircraft delivered emergency aid, which consisted of skim milk powder, plastic sheeting for temporary shelter, and medicines, during the August floods, at a total cost of $135,000. We also shipped during October 77,000 tonnes of wheat to Bangladesh at a cost of $1 1.7m, including freight. Our aid is thus arriving at a time when it is most needed. The total Australian official aid to Bangladesh in 1974-75 will exceed $ 15m, which is 50 per cent more than the already substantial figures for 1973-74. This places Bangladesh in third place after PapuaNew Guinea and Indonesia on the list of countries which are receiving aid from Australia. At the moment the provision of further assistance to Bangladesh is under consideration.

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