Craig Kelly MP calls on IMF to consider the Copts in Loan Agreement


The Federal Minister for Hughes, Craig Kelly MP, delivered this speech earlier today, Wednesday 29th May 2013, calling on the IMF to consider the treatment of the Coptic minority as a condition of  any financial assistance to the Egyptian Government.



Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (10:09):  I rise to speak on the International Monetary Agreements Amendment Bill 2013 and to support the comments made by the member for Goldstein.

This bill will see the Australian taxpayer underwrite close to $7 billion worth of funds to the IMF, supposedly as part of the global effort to enhance the financial backstop against further international volatility.

This commitment was made in April 2012, at a time when this government had promised that our budget would be returning to surplus. On something like 500 separate occasions the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have given an ironclad commitment that, “come hell or high water”, the budget would be returning to surplus. However, we know that that promise has been broken and that that commitment to the Australian people has been dishonoured by this Labor Government.

In this current financial year, we see an expected deficit of $19.4 billion. However, the financial year has not yet come to a close, so there is a very good chance that by the time we close the books at the end of June, we will see the $19.4 billion deficit rise even higher.

And here we have the most bizarre and extraordinary spectacle with this bill. Here we are in Australia laden with debt—already with five budget deficits in a row and with a sixth and a seventh  committed to by this government, were they to be re-elected—yet we are going to provide money to an international organisation that produces nothing.

They will then loan this money to even more irresponsible countries which have greater debt than we do. So, under this bill, we will be borrowing money from countries such as China and lending it to places like Greece, which will use it to pay off the German banks which have financed a generous Greek welfare state. The process and the outcome of such folly cannot be good in the end.

We need to realise that the only way these indebted countries can lift themselves up is to ensure that they follow the principles of free markets and property rights and encourage entrepreneurial activity. That is the only way they can create the wealth and activity necessary to lift themselves out of their debt crisis and to rein in their reckless spending.

If we are to lend this money to the IMF, we must demand greater accountability. That brings me to one of the loans the IMF is proposing: a $4.8 billion loan which the IMF is currently negotiating with Egypt.

The IMF are calling on Egypt to rein back some of their reckless spending and to reduce their debt. I believe the IMF should be doing more than this if they are going to hand the Egyptian government $4.8 billion.

Egypt’s current problems evolve around lack of security and lack of protection for the Coptic Christian minority. This is why their tourism sector has collapsed and the country is in such strife. This is why investors are staying away from Egypt and why Egypt faces such high interest payments on their borrowings.

Only a few short weeks ago, on 4 April, we saw an attack on the Coptic Orthodox Church by a gang of rioters.

What was most disturbing was that people dressed in Egyptian police uniforms were filmed joining in and aiding and abetting those rioters.

If the IMF is going to loan that money to Egypt, it must make a condition of those loans  that the Egyptian government provide full protection and greater security for the Egyptian Coptic Christian minority.

International pressure to protect the Coptic Christian minority in Egypt is the only way that the Egyptian economy has a future.

That is where the IMF must play a part, and we here in Australia must demand full accountability from the IMF to make sure that when these loans are being handed out to these indebted countries, countries that have got themselves into trouble through their reckless spending and build-up of debt, they take the steps necessary to actually fix their problems, rather than just continue on the way they are going.

The Coalition do not oppose this bill, but we say that we here, as the Australian government, must assure greater accountability of the spending of these funds.


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