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Thursday, 11 November 1971
Page: 3330

Mr CALDER (Northern Territory) - The estimates for the Department of Foreign Affairs have risen this year to $89,913,000, which is a rise of approximately $8.5m. I see that under division 270 (3) (07) - cultural relations overseas - the expenditure has risen to $175,000. Similar support to improve cultural relations appear in Division 270 (4) (05). All such items are beamed towards developing our cultural relations with other countries. It is through an understanding of and sympathy with the culture of these countries that closer ties and greater understanding may be established. There has been an increase in the financing of this type of multilateral aid. The Government should realise the value of this approach to international understanding, with special interest in the direction of our near neighbours - Malaysia. Singapore, the Philippines and India.

Two of these countries are members of the 5-power defence arrangement. The Philippines and Indonesia are not. So we must consider the effect of that arrangement on our near neighbours, the most important of which, to my way of thinking, is Indonesia. As I have pointed out before in this House, Indonesia is close to the north of Australia. This was demonstrated recently by the visit of an Indonesian airliner of sorts which came over to Darwin with a team on board to explore the possibility of commencing some sort of civil air service between our 2 countries. J noticed they had some difficulty in starting the motors, but still they are men of great initiative and no doubt could have overcome this. Our only representation in this area is through our overseas airline, Qantas Airways Ltd, which flies over Indonesia landing at only Denpasar, Djakarta for refuelling. We do have one other airline flying to Indonesia. This is a South Australian air charter firm which has considerable interests in Indonesia and is building up quite a strong business association with that country. It is operating from Darwin. It is doing the Indonesians a service and it no doubt doing fairly well itself. But I welcome the fact that it is tending to build up our interests in this area.

Our aid to Indonesia during the 3-year period 1971-73 will be $54m, which amounts to 40 per cent of our overseas aid, excluding aid to Papua New Guinea. Exports to Indonesia have been growing steadily at between £4m and $5m a year. As well, business enterprise in that country has been steadily increasing. On the other hand imports from Indonesia have declined. In 1968-69 they were valued at $59.9m. They fell the following year by Slim and in 1970-71 they fell to $22.5m. This is because we are producing much of the oil which hitherto we used to import from that country, but if we are considering purchasing our oil requirements overseas I would urge the Government to look towards this area because, after all, if we are interested in building up more friendly relations with these 120 million people to our near north we will have to do this sort of thing. As I have often reminded honourable members, the southern part of Indonesia is only 180 miles from the Wessell Islands, which are a part of Arnhem Land. So they are very close to us. Indonesia stretches some 2,500 miles from our north west right across the top of Australia and covers most of the sea routes which we would hope to use in shipping our ore, agricultural produce and manufactured goods to Japan and the Far East generally. So it is in our interests to foster the friendship and co-operation of these people.

Our armed forces co-operate with the Indonesians. We do not export arms to them, although with the number of men they have under arms they could probably use quite a lot of our small arms, ammunition and military hardware of that description. I think we could build up quite an export trade in those products. We have had Indonesian Army officers training here for the past 4 or 5 years. Some of our Army officers have been to their staff college at Bandung. The number at the moment is very small but I cannot see any reason why we cannot escalate this exchange of Army personnel because, after all, we are on their doorstep. The other countries from which they would get aid and information and deal with in terms of buying arms and so on would be the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United States of America and Japan, all of which are much further away than we are. So I would urge the Government to make strong efforts to build up this area of trade. I have met several of these men in Indonesia. They are very well disposed towards Australia. They are real soldiers in every sense and they are very well trained. I am certain that our soldiers who are trained in Indonesia could learn a lot from them.

I point out that we have had Singaporeans training here. I have seen them in out Attack-class patrol boats. I would say that the Indonesian Navy should be looking towards building up its strength in patrol boats and other light craft of that description because of the many islands that make up their country. I would also say that Australia's defence forces should be looking at the same sort of ships to operate in the same sort of waters to our north. I think there would be a lot to commend our coming to a trading agreement with the Indonesians. They do not oppose our 5-power defence arrangements, but, needless to say, are not part of them. I suggest that we can build up our cultural relations-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Hallett) - Order! The honourable member'3 time has expired.

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