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Tuesday, 27 October 1964
Page: 1293

Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales) (Minister for Customs and Excise) . - The important point to remember is that this expenditure is not part of the Estimates as such, lt really comes under the Australian Dairy Produce Board, a statutory authority which presents a report to the Minister for Primary Industry. The Supplementary Report of the Auditor-General contains a reference to the expenditure of these funds for market development in South East Asia. A levy is struck on the dairy industry. It is collected by the Government and paid through the Board. Therefore strictly speaking the honorable senator was not referring to the expenditure of Commonwealth funds but to the expenditure of money obtained from a levy struck on the dairy industry. The information sought by Senator Laught is not readily available now but it can be obtained for him easily. It is available because a report covering this subject is made to the Minister for Primary Industry a copy of which will be supplied to the honorable senator.

The honorable senator has invited me to comment on the merits of this expenditure of more than £1 million in South East Asia. I agree that this expenditure should be looked at favorably because the money is being spent in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. I think that any activity of this kind sponsored by Australia will help relations with our Asian neighbours. In that sense, this is a good approach. I do not think anybody would disagree with that fundamental principle. I repeat that the money to which the honorable senator has referred is obtained by a levy on the dairy industry by a statutory authority and reference is made to it in the AuditorGeneral's report because the Commonwealth Government acts as the medium for the transmission of the funds. The rest of the information sought by Senator Laught will be conveyed to him.

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