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Wednesday, 11 May 1960

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Chaney (PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Order! I think the honorable member should get back to the bill.

Mr UREN - At a time when we should be striving for world peace - and after all if this bill is not concerned with world peace it is surely one of the main issues to do with it - the members of the International Development Association are making available only 1,000,000,000 dollars to help under-developed countries. As I said before, the colonial powers have allowed these countries to remain undeveloped for hundreds of years and have done very little to make money available to them to improve their conditions. Now those powers feel that the provision of funds is one way of stopping the growth of communism in these countries.

We must make greater contributions to the people in our near north. We must uplift their standard of living. Although there are many problems to solve in our own country, they are minute compared with those of the people to the near north. Their standard of living is ten times lower than ours. How can we live here and say that we are secure? We must make sure that we share our prosperity with them, and to do so we must make a far greater contribution than is being made at present.

The Minister said that over a period of five years Australia's contribution will be 20,180,000 dollars. That is only a minute amount of money. By way of contrast I stress again the huge amount that we are spending on defence. People who live in undeveloped countries close to our shores have many problems. Only a few years ago I heard a lecture by Mr. Justice Douglas, a member of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. He is a great socialist and was a member of the Roosevelt New Deal team. He went on foot through South-East Asia and said that if America wanted to solve the problems of Asia, it could do so by giving 1 per cent, of its military budget for peaceful purposes and the uplifting of the standard of living of the Asian peoples. That statement was made in the Assembly Hall, Margaret-street, Sydney, in 1954. Now, six years later, the Government is coming along with this first contribution - this bank - to do something for the under-developed nations.

In 1947 when the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development was introduced we were going to do something, but this Government has borrowed as much as it possibly could from the International Bank. Even now there seems to be a question as to whether the Australian Government itself may borrow from this International Development Association instead of helping to solve the real problems of the backward nations. When the meetings of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association were held in this chamber last year, I heard the representatives of country after country stress the fact that they needed economic aid without any strings attached. They pointed out that unless we gave it to them they would have to turn elsewhere for it. Yet the Treasurer, knowing that, and being aware of the minute amount of money that will be made available through this International Development Association, still raises the query of whether Australia will be one of the intermediate countries which may borrow from this association. If we borrow from it, as I said before, it will be a demonstration of complete hypocrisy on the part of the Government.

Members of the Opposition support the bill but we regret that it was not brought forward many years ago. We hope that it will be of some benefit to the countries which are less fortunate than ours.

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