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Wednesday, 6 October 1971
Page: 1925

Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports) - Just briefly, I should like for once to praise the Government for its action in this direction. This is one of the very few occasions on which the Government seems to be acting independently, before waiting for the United States of America to act. During the weekend 1 happened to read the annual report of these organisations which were tabled in this House last week, and in many respects they are very depressing as far as the future provision of international aid to the underdeveloped countries is concerned. 1 refer particularly to page 49 of the annual report of the World Bank. After referring to an inquiry being inaugurated by the World Bank, the report states:

Barring a major reversal of recent trends in the volume, compositions and terms of capital flows to the developing countries, little significant increase can be expected over the next decade in the net transfer figure of roughly $5 billion, excluding equity investments . .

I think it is a most regrettable situation that the great country of the United States is so reluctant to advance its proper share to the International Development Association and I think it serves to highlight the kinds of international currency and trade difficulties that confront us at the present time. It is this slowness of acting in the face of a crisis which makes the situation even far worse than it ought to be. As the Minister for the Army and Minister Assisting the Treasurer (Mr Peacock) pointed out, the principle beneficiaries of IDA have been our neighbours particularly India. Pakistan and Indonesia. To my mind, IDA is the best of this team of international organisations because it advances money on what are called 'soft terms', that is low. no or nominal rates of interest.

I think that all of us in recent days have been impressed by the number of public demands that have come to us directly and indirectly for Australia to give greater aid in the immediate and appalling circumstances in East Pakistan. I do not deny that the Government has not used its good offices where it can. I realise that the problem in East Pakistan is not primarily one of money: it is one of taking scarce resources to a place where it is very difficult to apply them. Of course, this is ultimately one of the reasons why the progress of primitive economies to something more substantial is a slow one. But nevertheless such financial aid as other countries cangive to enable these underdeveloped countries to acquire techniques, capital assistance, consumer goods and so on is welcomed and 1 should like to com mend the Government, at any rate, on having heeded the request from Mr McNamara who said: 'Do not wait until the big fellows put in. You put in and it will help us in our immediate and difficult circumstances'.

Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.

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