Coalition Announces Minister for International Development
13 August 2010 at 5:49 pm
Australian aid organisations have welcomed the Coalition’s commitment to have a Minister for International Development should they win the August 21 election.
However organisations have also criticised both parties for failing to meet the United Nations goals for developed countries by committing 0.7% of Gross National Income to foreign aid.
Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop made the announcement that the Coalition would create a Minister and Department for International Development during a National Press Club debate with Foreign Minister Stephen Smith.
During the debate, both Bishop and Smith expressed bipartisan support for a target of 0.5% of GNI.
The Australian Council for International Development, the peak body for Australian aid and development organisations, says the Coalition’s welcome announcement of a new Minister for International Development reflects the importance of both a growing aid program and the attention required to meet the challenge of halving global poverty by 2015.
The Make Poverty History coalition has welcomed the Coalition’s commitment, and is urging the ALP to make a similar commitment.
Make Poverty History Co-Chair Andrew Hewett says that creating a ministerial position for international development will allow Australia to take a whole of Government approach to the way we engage in these important global issues.
Hewett says while Labor’s decision to make AusAID an executive agency is a step in the right direction, it is not enough. Make Poverty History would like to see Labor take the further step and create a stand alone Ministerial position.
Tim Costello, Make Poverty History Co-Chair, says a Minister for International Development will be able to improve the design and focus of Australia’s overseas aid.
Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown welcomed the Coalition’s announcement, saying he announced that the Greens would move for a Minister for Overseas Aid and International Development in July.
However The Greens, Make Poverty History and the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) all called on the Coalition and the ALP to commit to lifting Australia’s Development Aid contribution of 0.7% of GNI by 2012, in line with the United Nations goal for developed countries.
ACFID says that given a world that is struggling to halve global poverty by 2015, it is disappointing that both major parties failed to announce a clear timetable for reaching the UN goal of 0.7%.