Australian aid is a critical foreign policy tool helping countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change, tackle global poverty, advance gender equality, and reduce inequalities. Yet in recent years the Government has severely cut the Australian aid budget to the lowest level ever. Australia is the country of the “fair-go” – our people are generous, fair-minded and want to leave our children a better Australia and a better world. We asked the ALP and Liberal Bennelong candidates for their views.
What will you commit to do within the party room and publicly within six months of being elected to advocate for a more generous aid program?
The Abbott/Turnbull Government cut the overseas aid budget by $11.3 billion, taking Australia to its lowest level of spending on overseas aid as a proportion of Gross National Income (GNl) since records were first kept.
The 2017-18 Budget further weakens Australia’s overseas aid spending, with the Turnbull Government cutting an additional $303 million over the forward estimates. At the same time, Malcolm Turnbull is delivering a tax cut for millionaires.
Over the next decade, our aid program will continue to weaken. The Turnbull Government has set us on a course for an ever diminishing contribution of our national income to development assistance.
Disappointingly, the Turnbull Government’s recently released Foreign White Paper is a missed opportunity to reverse this trend and instead diminishes the aid budget further. Some attention has been given to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but the Government’s continued failure to articulate how the SDGs will be implemented in Australia’s approach to international development in the Indo-Pacific and its failure to reverse cuts to aid funding is extremely short-sighted.
I will continue to push for a greater role for Australia’s NGOs and local community groups in the delivery of Australia’s aid program in recognition of the fantastic work its volunteers do on the ground in developing countries. I will continue to be a strong advocate for disability-inclusive development in our aid program to help people find their way out of poverty and realise their potential. I support the Government’s decision to make the rights of persons with a disability one of Australia’s priorities for our term on the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Will you take the “Aid Champion Pledge”? The pledge is “to support annual increases to the Australian aid budget and build a positive profile for how Australian aid is improving the lives of people living in the poorest parts of the world”.
A future Labor Government will respond to the goals, targets and indicators set by the SDGs. The SDGs together form a comprehensive framework to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and address climate change. The SDGs recognise that answering the great challenges of our time, such as global poverty and the risk of dangerous climate change, is critical to a fairer and more prosperous future for us all.
A Labor Government will restore accountability and transparency to the Australian aid program. We have committed to reintroduce the annual Ministerial Budget Statement which details how overseas aid is being allocated by sector, country and region. This document was discontinued by Julie Bishop.
Prior to the last federal election, Labor committed to increasing Official Development Assistance to internationally accepted levels. Australia should do its fair share and, if elected, I will join with my colleagues in the party room to advocate for a greater contribution to our aid program and pressure the Turnbull Government to reverse some of its savage cuts to the aid program.
I welcomed the Government’s decision to increase the aid budget to $3.9 billion in 2017-2018. Australia is the 13th largest donor in the OECD. Australia’s humanitarian assistance will soon rise to $500 million a year to help meet the needs of people affected by crisis and conflict. A competitive, flexible and growing economy is necessary to support further increases in aid spending. Only the Government has a plan to grow Australia’s economy and deliver an affordable and sustainable aid program. I will continue to draw attention to the contribution that the Australian aid program makes to reducing poverty and promoting sustainable economic growth, particularly in our region where over 90 per cent of our aid funding is now spent.
What is your party’s position on increasing Australian Aid?
We need to recognise the critical role that aid plays in protecting our national interest by promoting stability and prosperity in our region and beyond. Our aid programs will promote human rights and good governance, and empower women and girls and expand women’s access to political, economic and social opportunities across the world.
Under Labor, Australia’s overseas aid program will promote inclusive and sustainable growth that reduces inequality and helps people and nations lift themselves out of poverty.
Labor’s approach to development assistance is both purposive and principled, and is guided by the following points:
- Making poverty reduction and poverty eradication core objectives of the aid program;
- Ensuring that Australia’s national interests are also served by the program, primarily through the protection of peace, stability and prosperity in our region;
- Focusing on the areas of development where Australia is best placed to make a meaningful difference; and
- Making an effective contribution, through constructive internationalism, to the international rules-based order and Australia’s ability to influence in global and regional affairs.
The Liberal Government is delivering a generous, effective and affordable aid program worth an estimated $3.9 billion in 2017-18, a $100 million increase over the previous year. The aid budget will rise to $4.01 billion in 2018-19. We will consider further increases once the Budget is back on a sustainable footing. The Liberal Government is delivering an effective and efficient aid program that encourages innovation and partnerships with NGOs and the private sector to solve our region’s most pressing development challenges
Authorised by Tony Milne, 1/4 Solwood Ln, Blackburn VIC.