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Tuesday, 29 November 1983
Page: 2968

Question No. 284

Senator Bolkus asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs , upon notice, on 24 August 1983:

(1) Did the United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDC) in 1981 decide that developed countries should provide 0.15 per cent of their national product to the LDCs.

(2) Did Australia support such a target.

(3) Was Bangladesh the only country to be an LDC of the ten top recipient countries of Australian bilateral aid.

(4) Of a total of 56 countries which receive such aid from Australia are only 12 LDCs and do they receive altogether less than 11 per cent of the total bilateral project aid budget.

(5) Does Indonesia, which is a country with fewer poor and generally in better economic conditions than India, receive 33 per cent of Australia's bilateral project aid whilst India receives 2 percent.

(6) Was Pakistan the second largest recipient of Australian food aid in 1980-81 , even though they exported 1.1 million tonnes of milled rice in that year, thus being the third largest exporter in the world behind Thailand and USA.

(7) What action does the Government intend to take to redress the situation.

Senator Gareth Evans —The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answers to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries adopted by consensus a resolution entitled 'The Substantial New Program of Action for the 1980's for the Least Developed Countries' which stated that 'most donors of official development assistance (ODA) will devote in the coming years 0.15 per cent of their gross national product to the least developed countries (LDCs). Others will double their ODA to the LDCs in the same period. Taken together, these efforts are likely to achieve, by 1985, a doubling of official development assistance to the LDCs, compared to the transfers to them during the last five years'.

(2) Australia supported the consensus resolution. The Australian delegation said that 'Australia intends to maintain the flow of its development resources within the context of its regional priorities and was concerned to direct its development assistance to those believed to have the greatest need. This has already resulted in more than a doubling of our assistance to LDCs over the period 1978-81'.

(3) Among the first ten recipients of Australian bilateral aid in 1981-82, Bangladesh and Tanzania are classified as least developed countries.

(4) In 1981-82 Australian bilateral aid totalling $A64.4m was given to 16 least developed countries. These countries received 10.4 per cent of total bilateral project aid in that year.

(5) In 1981-82 Indonesia received 6.7 per cent of Australia's total aid program , a very large proportion of which was provided as project aid. Indonesia's share of Australia's bilateral project aid in that year was accordingly 30.3 per cent. The corresponding figures for India, which is not classified by the United Nations as a least developed country, were 0.3 and 0.9 per cent respectively.

(6) Pakistan received 26,150 tonnes of wheat in 1980-81 and was the second largest recipient of Australian food aid (wheat) in that year. Almost 50 per cent of Australian food aid supplied through bilateral and multilateral channels to Pakistan in that year was earmarked for use on emergency relief for Afghan refugees. Commodities supplied to the emergency relief effort consisted of wheat , high protein biscuits, milk powder, sugar and vegetable oil. No rice was supplied. In 1980-81 Pakistan was a net importer of wheat (300,000 tons).

(7) A high level committee, chaired by Sir Gordon Jackson, has been commissioned to undertake a major review of Australia's official aid program. The committee will enquire into all aspects of Australia's aid program, including such matters as equity, effectiveness, geographic distribution and forms and terms of aid. The committee's report is expected to be published in early 1984.