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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 1758

Senator DAVIDSON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to a question which I asked yesterday about wheat for Ethiopia. In reply the Minister indicated that various other forms of assistance were under discussion. In the light of further Press references this morning, I ask the Minister: Are there any developments in this matter as far as the Government is concerned?

Senator WILLESEE -Yes. To get more immediate help in these very tragic circumstances we have arranged for a quantity of protein enriched milk biscuits to go direct to Addis Ababa by Qantas Airways Ltd. We expect that to be within the next 2 weeks. If we can get it on an earlier flight it will go, but that depends upon Qantas. Also there has been set in train by the Disaster Emergencies Committee of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid a national appeal for the inhabitants of the area. It is hoped to raise a minimum of $200,000.I commend that appeal to anybody who wishes to associate himself with the provision of help for the area. Yesterday the honourable senator asked me whether wheat was to be given to Ethiopia and other places. I did not have a note in front of me. I could not remember them. The countries which are mainly affected are Ethiopia, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. The population of those countries is about 25 million, or which a little over half is affected by this drought. The stock losses in some places are as high as 83 per cent. The honourable senator asked what we are doing. The first thing that we are doing is taking immediate steps to send the protein enriched milk biscuits direct to Addis Ababa. As I explained yesterday, there will be some difficulties in getting the wheat there. It will be fairly slow. The other thing that we are doing is to be seen in the appeal which has been launched and which I commend to everybody.

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