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Wednesday, 27 October 1971
Page: 2629

Mr CALDER (Northern Territory) - The honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson), who spoke very sincerely as have all speakers in this discussion so far, mentioned-

Mr Cohen - Now it is your turn.

Mr CALDER - Is the honourable member going to speak on this?

Mr Cohen - No.

Mr CALDER - The honourable member for Hughes mentioned that of the Si 20m that has been promised by countries around the world only $20m has virtually been delivered. Of this amount Australia has produced $3m and a further $2.5m was announced tonight. Australia is putting the aid on the line and delivering it where it is needed. As I have said, prior to the additional aid announced in the ministerial statement delivered tonight by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) we had given $3m in the form of rice and cash to the United Nations appeal as well as other urgently needed items which had been requested. How much of this material reached the target? We have been assured that Australian Government aid does reach its destination.

But what of the large amount of aid from other countries and possibly even from private individuals? This is what concerns me. Although I have not been fortunate enough to have been to India as have some honourable members in this place I have been told from a very reliable source that much of this outside aid is misdirected. I have been informed that it is misappropriated, that people are making a profit from it, that it has been delayed and that it can be seen on wharves and even on airfields. On some occasions some forms of aid have even been held up at customs. The Minister said tonight that our prompt and effective assistance has been described by the Indian Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of Economic Affairs as exemplary. So at least what we are doing is being appreciated by someone.

Mr Cohen - What would you expect them to say?

Mr CALDER - I am just repeating what was said by the people to whom we are giving aid. The honourable member is just making some political nonsense out of this matter.

By what method is our government aid vectored on to the target at which it is aimed? Surely if the system we are using is functioning so well, as has been suggested, we could play a greater part and help to organise other people to transport their aid by applying our system to their problems. After all, there is no point in raising millions of dollars and sending hundreds of tons of rice or other goods to India unless this assistance is put into the area where it is needed and unless it can be protected from pilfering or from people who would sell it to their own advantage. Therefore, I support the Minister in what he said tonight. I believe that we were correct in our early decision to deal directly with the Indian Government and to ask where that Government wanted the aid and what type of aid was wanted. Our airlift supplies were well planned and executed. At least we are getting our goods to where they are supposed to be going. I strongly commend those charitable organisations and individuals who, according to the Minister's statement, are estimated to have raised $2m privately or in groups.

Mr Cope - According to the Minister for Primary Industry some only did it for publicity.

Mr CALDER - I am talking about the people who raised $2m, not the people who lie down outside this Parliament and probably subscribe nothing at all. While on the subject of individual contributions, 1 do not detract from the people from certain classes of the community who have already given so readily. If all Australians over the age of 18 years had subscribed $2 each to a fund to help the refugees, where would we have been? We would have had Si 6m in the kitty and this would have spread the whole call for aid over a vast area of Australia and there would not have been any hardship in any direction. This would have demonstrated the complete sincerity of the whole Australian society. The public could have contributed $2 a head without any difficulty whatsoever. We must be sincere in this matter and very often I wonder whether some of the people who are howling about this matter are sincere. As I said, these people who lie down in the streets and fast probably would have done more good if they had gone out and worked and put some money into the fund themselves. I commend the Government on its further grant of $500,000 direct cash grant to the United Nations and $2m to be allotted in a flexible way which will provide urgently needed items when and where they are sought.

The point I make is that we are endeavouring to send to the people who need them the things that they require instead of just sending them goods holus bolus and letting them lie around the place to rot or be pilfered. I do hope that our delivery rate on which we have been complimented remains at its present high level. The Government has promised to keep the matter of aid for Pakistani refugees under review. Most Opposition speakers tonight assumed that $5.5m will be the end of our contribution. The Minister tonight said that this matter would be kept under review and that is what the

Government will do. Surely there must be a long term policy on this matter. Monetary aid or aid in kind is what is so necessary now and which obviously will be necessary for a long time to come but surely the international community must look at the whole problem. I commend the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) for saying that this is what must be done. lt is on the conscience not only of the Australian community but also of the whole community of nations to try to work this problem out and to get together and to do something about it.

What are they doing to try to solve this incomprehensible happening? The numbers involved are appalling. It is beyond belief to talk of 10 million people in one area being completely destitute. This problem has reached enormous proportions. Australia has been told that it is fourth on the list of donors in relation to its gross national product. We are reaching a goal with our aid and we are making determined efforts to see that this situation is maintained. We have recognised the need for aid. Relief will continue and the Government will maintain a constant review of the situation. The Minister made this clear in his statement tonight. However, we must work towards convincing India and Pakistan of the urgent need to reconcile the situation. As I said, this is a problem for the whole world. This is not a time for aid fatigue and certainly Australia is not showing aid fatigue. The Government has promised to keep the aid situation open, to continue to review the urgency of this situation and to continue to ensure that it reaches the goal which it has set. It is of great importance to see that our efforts are not white-anted away and are not pilfered or misappropriated. We in this country must play a part in endeavouring to lead the world community to finding some way of solving this problem. At the moment, we are showing a practical way with our aid and the delivery of that aid.

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