Foreign Ministers’ Record on Foreign Aid Revealed
Thursday, 24th September 2015 at 11:58 am
New research reveals that Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has presided over the greatest decline in foreign aid in Australia’s history.
The new report called Charity ends at home: The decline of foreign aid in Australia examines the history of Australia’s Official Development Assistance scheme – known as foreign aid.
The research by The Australia Institute, in collaboration with Jubilee Australia Research Centre, outlines that former Labor Minister, Stephen Smith, and Liberal Minister from the 70’s, Tony Street, presided over the biggest increases in Australia’s aid budget.
The report says Julie Bishop and 1980’s Foreign Minister, Bill Hayden, presided over the biggest reductions.
“Australia is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, at the richest point in our history. Despite this, our commitment to foreign aid is declining,” Executive Director of The Australia Institute, Ben Oquist said.
“We are the eighth richest country in the OECD, will soon become the nineteenth most generous donor.”
“Our research shows that Julie Bishop has presided over the greatest decline in foreign aid of any Foreign Minister in Australian history (and) the Australian public thinks we give a lot more aid than we actually do.”
Brynnie Goodwill of Jubilee Australia said recently Australia had witnessed a loss of its united approach towards foreign aid.
“The last two years has seen the apparent abandonment of the Howard era bipartisan support for the Millennium Development Goals,” Goodwill said.
The report said that since the creation of Australia’s foreign aid program in 1974 there had been 10 foreign ministers. Three of them have overseen an increase in foreign aid in Gross National Income terms while seven have presided over a fall in foreign aid.
“While it may seem like easy pickings in the short term, these cuts will likely undermine Australia’s international reputation. At a time when funds are most needed to support critical services, we don’t want to be known as the greedy country,” Goodwill said.
The release of the report coincides with the announcement that The Australia Institute and Jubilee Australia Research Centre are merging. The Australia Institute is an independent think tank funded by grants from philanthropic trusts, memberships and commissioned research.
Jubilee Australia said it works to raise awareness of human rights, environmental and economic issues in impoverished nations. It is the Australian arm of the world-wide Jubilee movement working for debt cancellation.
“This is a great development for The Australia Institute. Jubilee Australia’s work on mining issues in our region aligns with the Institute’s work busting the economic myths of the mining industry here in Australia,” TAI’s Ben Oquist said.
“Both organisations will benefit from sharing skills and resources and further developing our reach and impact.”
In the May Budget the Abbott Government delivered the biggest single-year cut to foreign aid in Australia’s history, a move that Not for Profits claimed would hurt Australia’s international reputation.
Then Treasurer Joe Hockey revealed that $1 billion, or 20 per cent of Australia’s current foreign aid budget, would be cut, bringing the total cuts to the aid program since the Government was elected to $11.3 billion.