Government ‘Wrecking Ball’ on Foreign Aid
16 December 2014 at 10:48 am
The peak body for aid and humanitarian agencies, the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID),has condemned what it calls the deep cuts to Australia’s aid budget announced by the Treasurer in his mid year economic and fiscal outlook.
ACFID said the cuts are damaging to the poor and a lazy way to find budget savings.
Treasurer Joe Hockey announced savings in Australia’s foreign aid Budget of $3.7 billion.
“Where we have made savings we have worked hard to ensure that there will be no negative impact on the Australian economy,” Hockey said.
ACFID however said the Government had taken a wrecking ball to Australia’s aid program.
“In just over 12 months, the Treasurer has cut more than $11 billion from the aid budget. This means that next year’s aid budget will be slashed by more than 20 percent,” Marc Purcell, ACFID’s Executive Director said.
“We see a trail of broken promises since the Government was elected. The Foreign Minister promised that the Government would be ‘reliable, consistent and far more strategic’ with Australia’s aid program. Well, the only consistency we have seen is cuts to the aid program every six months.”
“Last year, the Treasurer reaffirmed the Coalition’s commitment to increasing foreign aid to 0.5 per cent of national income over time."
He said the cuts mean that Australian aid will fall from 0.32 percent to 0.21 percent of national income.
“This is the lowest ever level since records began in 1954 – when Queen Elizabeth II first visited Australia,” Purcell said.
“As Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott said that no person of conscience would fail to subscribe to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Yet, these cuts make reaching the MDGs practically impossible for countries in our region. By the Prime Minister’s own sentiment, these are unconscionable cuts.”
“The Australian aid program plays a critical role in building prosperity and stability in our region and beyond. Today’s cuts will hurt millions of poor people in the short term and pose an enormous risk to Australia’s own economic and strategic interests in the long-term. This is a damaging and short-sighted way to find budget savings,” he said.
Aid agency World Vision Australia said the Government’s decision to again slash Australia’s aid budget reveals a shocking disregard for the massive challenges facing the world.
World Vision Australia Chief Executive Tim Costello said the Government’s decision to cut the aid program by $3.7 billion over four years is a breach of faith with the Australian people as well as the world’s poorest people.
“When is this madness going to stop?” Costello said. “Every six months for the past three years, the aid budget has been sliced into," Costello said.
“The globe is currently facing the most pressing humanitarian burden since World War II, and Australia is not immune from the flow-on effects of these problems.
“This decision by the Government shows they are totally out of touch with not only Australian values, but also with what’s happening in the world today.
“By making these cuts, the Government is making an active choice to retreat from complex global challenges.”
Christian welfare Not for Profit, Micah Challenge, also condemned the cuts.
Political Engagement Coordinator for the organisation, Ben Thurley, said by 2017-18 when the cuts come into full effect, Australia’s development assistance will fall to its lowest ever recorded level of just 21 cents in every $100 of national income.
“We find it absolutely disgraceful that for the third time in 15 months the Abbott Government has broken its promises on aid and turned to our poorest neighbours to find their budget savings,” Thurley said.
The Government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook can be found HERE