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Monday, 2 December 1985
Page: 2641

Senator CHIPP —I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs: Is it accurate to say that this Government is proposing to give $1.5m worth of military aid to the disgusting Marcos Government? Is it also true to say that part of that military aid will be spent on training Filipino troops so that they can better massacre and torture innocent human beings? Is it also true to say that part of that $1.5m military aid will be used to service the Nomad aircraft which has been known to drop napalm bombs on women and children in villages whose only crime is to resent the greed of officials of the Marcos Government? In light of the Government's acknowledgment of the appalling violation of human rights and of open corruption by the Marcos Government, will the Hawke Government now finally stop all military aid to that country?

Senator GARETH EVANS —The brief I have is from the Minister for Defence and I believe that it is more appropriately directed to him as the Minister responsible for defence co-operation programs. So it is in that capacity that I answer the question. It is the case that the total value of the defence co-operation program with the Philippines in the financial year 1985-86 is estimated to be about $1.5m, compared with $1.356m last financial year. That program comprises joint projects and training as follows: First of all, Nomad maintenance; that is to say, maintenance assistance for the 12 Nomad aircraft commercially purchased in 1975. One civilian engineer is located at the Mactan Air Base in Cebu. A three-man army engineer team completed its attachment in July 1985, which concluded Australian Defence Force involvement in the project. There is also a project involving medical co-operation in which planning has commenced for the provision of a modified mobile light field hospital and associated training and advisory assistance. So far as training of Filipino military personnel in Australia is concerned, it is the case that under this program about 65 Filipinos will undertake such training in 1985-86. Such training includes administration, driving and Army Corps courses in infantry, artillery, ordinance and transport, air traffic control and C130 maintenance.

I do not stop to comment as to whether the emotive terminology used by Senator Chipp is appropriate in this particular context so far as the particular personnel here are concerned or the use of the Nomad aircraft to which he refers. I simply say that the Minister for Defence has advised me that it would be premature to consider any question of termination of that aid before the receipt by him of the Cooksey report on the evaluation of the defence co-operation program which is expected to be received by the Minister for Defence within a matter of weeks.

Senator CHIPP —I ask a supplementary question. Can the Minister categorically deny that any instruction or suggestion whatsoever has come from the United States of America to Australia on this matter? If he cannot deny it, will he get an assurance from the Minister for Defence about this?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I will see what answer the Minister for Defence feels able to make to that question.