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Wednesday, 26 October 1949

Dr EVATT (Barton) (AttorneyGeneral and Minister for External Affairs) . - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The bill provides for a contribution by Australia of £500,000 to be spent on Australian supplies for the United Nations International Children's Emergency Eund, which was formed by the United Nations when Unrra came to an end three years ago. The establishment of the fund has proved to be one of the great international achievements of the United Nations. It has the simple, humanitarian purpose of providing care for sick and hungry children and expectant and nursing mothers in countries which were devastated by the war, or where child welfare standards are particularly low. In Europe the fund is providing a daily supplementary meal for nearly 5,000,000 children and nursing mothers. It is also providing medical supplies and clothing, particularly in those areas that are exposed to severe climatic conditions. The medical work of the fund, which has been carried out in co-operation with the World Health Organization, includes a world-wide campaign against tuberculosis, which it is hoped will ultimately cover 100,000,000 people. In the Far East and South-East Asia, programmes have been drawn up for the feeding of children, the training of child welfare experts, and the control »f tuberculosis and other diseases. In spite of it's achievement, a great part of the intended work of the fund remains unfinished. The fund urgently requires further financial support from governments in order to keep its programmes going through the next winter in the northern hemisphere and to fulfil the plans which have been laid down for its operations in Asia. These funds must be forthcoming if the urgent humanitarian work of the fund is to continue.

The Australian Government has already made three previous contributions to the fund, and the contribution provided for in this bill will bring the total to £3,220,000. This total sum is higher than that contributed by any other country in the world except the United States. Further, the children's fund has received magnificent support from the Australian people. In response to a campaign organized last year in this country by the United Nations Appeal for Children, the public subscribed £600,000. This splendid voluntary response shows the great popular appeal of the work of the fund, and the widespread support which it has among the community. I desire particularly to emphasize the contributions made by the Australian people, quite apart from the money appropriated by the Parliament for this purpose. A second appeal will shortly be conducted throughout the States by the Australian National Committee for the United Nations. The. Australian people can be proud of Australia's part in the work of this international enterprise. Mr. Maurice Pate, the executive director of the fund, described the Government's last contribution as " a generous action " which was of particular value to the fund because it enabled it to plan its activities ahead on a firm basis. In conveying the gratitude of the organization for this contribution, Mr. Pate pointed out that, on a per capita basis, Australia was contributing more to the fund than any other country.

Canon Edwards, who is well-known to members of the Parliament because of bis long Association with the Canberra Grammar School, is now chief of the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund mission in Greece, and he has spoken in the highest terms of the valuable work being done in Greece by that body. He particularly mentioned the high quality of Australian goods and the excellent condition in which goods arrived from Australia. We have received thanks from all nations in Europe for our help.

Mr Holt - Are the funds used for the purchase of suitable Australian goods ?

Dr EVATT - Yes, and of course, we have to pay for the transport of the goods to their destination. I can assure honorable members that all goods sent by us will be purchased in Australia, and presently I shall give one or two illustrations of what has already been done. I repeat now that all money subscribed by Australians has been spent in this country on a variety of supplies that are essential for the well-being of the people under the care of the fund. Australia has shipped to many different destinations large quantities of meat and other protein foods, preserved milk, flour and fats. Australian wool has been used for blankets and clothing and Australian hides have been made into shoes for needy children in other countries.

At the beginning of last September the Government's contributions, which totalled £2,500,000, and the funds subscribed by the Australian public had been expended as follows: - Purchase of supplies, £2,669,000. Charges for freight to the beneficiary countries, storage and delivery charges prior to shipment and other similar expenses, £427,000. The administrative expenses of the South- West Pacific representative of the fund were £5,000. Brigadier Field, who is in charge of the organization's small office in Sydney, has done magnificent work without undue expense. At that time, orders had been placed for about £950,000 worth of fats, including margarine, and for £820,000 worth of tinned meats. Other goods ordered were £270,000 worth of preserved milk and dairy products, £121,000 worth of various protein foods including vegetables, £114,000 worth of scoured wool for blankets, £36,000 worth of hides and £410,000 worth of wheat flour of which £225,000 worth was destined for the work of the fund in the Middle East, where considerable assistance had to be provided for refugees because of the troubles in Palestine.

Australian supplies have been shipped to a large number of countries. Italy has received over 6,500 tons of goods, Poland 3,300, Greece 2,240, and Austria, 3,100 tons. Other recipients have been China, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Egypt, Pinland and India. Over £300,000 worth of supplies have been sent to Middle Eastern countries. Altogether, nearly 29,000 tons of supplies have been shipped overseas. Here I draw attention to an important factor. The United States has adopted a very generous policy towards the fund. It has agreed, by its laws, to match the contributions made by other governments at the rate of 2.57 dollars to 1 dollar. Thus the proposed contribution of £500,000 by Australia will draw in a much larger contribution - more than two and a half times as much - by the United States. The combined sum will help to carry the operations of the fund well into next year and over the difficult period of the four or five months of the northern winter in which the children of European and other countries in the Northern Hemisphere suffer so much through no fault of their own. I have a long note of the types of assistance provided in Europe, the Middle East and Asia and with the permission of the House I shall have it incorporated in Hansard. It is as follows : -



Albania. - Food; . medical supplies; raw materials; milk conservation.

Austria. - Food; soap; raw materials; milk conservation.

Bulgaria. - Food; insecticides for antimalaria projects; other medical supplies; raw materials; milk conservation.

Czechoslovakia. - Food; soap; medical supplies; raw materials; milk conservation; BCG tuberculosis vaccination.

Finland. - Food; soap; medical supplies; rawmaterials; milk conservation; BCG tuberculosis vaccination.

France. - Food; medical supplies; milk conservation.

Germany. - Emergency programme of codliver oil; raw materials.

Greece. - Food; soap; blankets: raw materials; milk conservation; BCG tuberculosis vaccination.

Hungary. - Food; soap; insecticides for anti-malaria projects; other medical supplies; raw materials ; BCG tuberculosis.

Italy. - Food; soap; medical supplies; raw materials; milk conservation.

Poland. - Food; medical supplies; raw materials; milk conservation equipment; BCG tuberculosis vaccination.

Rumania. - Food; soap; insecticides for anti-malaria projects; other medical supplies; yeast for anti-pellagra programmes; raw materials ; milk conservation.

Yugoslavia. - Food; soap; insecticides for anti-malaria projects; other medical smjpplies; raw materials; milk conservation; BCG tuberculosis vaccination.

Some 274 European child-health and welfare personnel have already studied under U.N.I.C.E.F.'s group -training programme held in France, Switzerland and Sweden. Students were from Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Roumania, Yugoslavia.

Middle East.

Emergency programme for refugees in Palestine and adjacent areas includes food, soap, insecticides for anti-malaria projects, other medical supplies and blankets.

Ceylon. - BCG tuberculosis vaccination. Other programmes under discussion.

China. - Emergency feeding; medical supplies; child-care training.

Hongkong. - Specific programmes are under discussion. Initial milk distribution has begun.

India. - BCG tuberculosis vaccination and anti-malaria projects. Specific programmes are under discussion.

Pakistan. - BCG tuberculosis vaccination and anti-malaria projects. Further programmes are under discussion.

Philippines. - Specific programmes' are under discussion. An initial ten month feeding programme has begun.

Approximately60 Far Eastern students will studv graduate child-care and welfare under U.N.I.C.E.F. fellowships. To date, four fellows have been appointed.

Note. - Allocations have been made and programmes are being discussed for: Brunei, Burma, Indo-China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malay Federation, North Borneo and Sarawak. In addition the following have been approved for the BCG vaccination campaign : Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Bolivia, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Rumania and Tunisia.

I commend this measure to the Parliament. Its enactment will demonstrate the willingness of Australians to share their relative good fortune - indeed, their very good fortune - with suffering children in other countries whose governments are not yet able to care for them adequately. The Government is satisfied that the administration of the fund is conducted efficiently and with great impartiality. The executive director of the fund has appointed a number of Australians to responsible positions in his administration. I have already given the House one instance, that of Canon Edwards. The fund is not only a successful humanitarian enterprise. In addition, it embodies the important principle that international assistance should be available to all, strictly in accordance with need, and without political or any other kind of discrimination. Because it has scrupulously followed this principle the fund has been freed from the major political divisions that often hinder constructive work in other fields of the United Nations. The fund is a splendid example, I submit, of co-operative international action of a practical kind. The children who receive the benefit of the fund and also their mothers, in all parts of the world, know that the assistance is coming from the United Nations and also know what countries are helping. The countries receiving aid, as I told the House a moment ago, have expressed the greatest possible appreciation of the fund's work and have played a considerable part locally in supporting it. The Government proposes to continue to offer the fund its full support until its emergency work has been completed. It is confident that that principle will be accepted by all honorable members.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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