FED:Aid before guns, Labor MP urges
Monday, 21 Feb 2011 at 12:12pm;
CANBERRA, Feb 21 AAP - It's much better to spend taxpayers'
dollars on foreign aid than ramping up the defence budget, a Labor
People in poor Southeast Asian villages like Australia because
of its aid, Kelvin Thomson has told parliament.
Mr Thomson was a member of a parliamentary delegation to
Indonesia, Brunei and Laos last year.
Poverty was widespread in Indonesia and Laos he said when
tabling the delegation's report on Monday.
The delegation was pleased to see the positive impact of
Australian aid in communities in the two countries.
"We had a fantastic welcome when we visited a village health
clinic and junior secondary school in central Kalimantan, both of
which have benefited from Australian aid dollars," Mr Thomson said.
"We have been having a bit of a debate about overseas aid
"I wish some of the aid sceptics could visit these projects and
see how much goodwill they generate.
"People there like us.
"It's a much better way to spend taxpayers' dollars than ramping
up the defence budget, which brings the opposite circle of
suspicion, mistrust and arms races whereas aid fosters a virtuous
circle of trust and goodwill."
Mr Thomson said 25 per cent of Laotian villages were still
contaminated by unexploded ordinance from extensive American
bombing during the Vietnam war.
"Villagers are sometimes forced to choose between extreme
poverty and risking injury and death through cultivating
contaminated land," he said.
The delegation was appalled by the situation and thought the US
"should match its responsibility for the horror caused by the UXOs
with financial support to reduce the human toll and render the land