THE Australian Government’s announcement in Tuesday’s Federal Budget to reduce aid spending by $7.6 billion is a disaster for the world’s poor, says Save the Children.
The federal budget contains another $3.1 billion of cuts to foreign aid bringing total cuts to $7. 6 billion, following the $4.5 billion announced on the eve of the election.
“Funding slashed from Australia’s aid budget accounts for 21% of major savings over 5 years – more than any other major savings measure announced tonight. “That’s a hugely unfair cut made to spending on the world’s poor and their access to life saving aid,” Save the Children’s CEO Paul Ronalds.
While the budget contains important measures to improve the effectiveness of Australia’s overseas aid such as an increase in humanitarian spend, these are overshadowed by the funding cuts. These take cuts in foreign aid by successive governments to almost $12 billion since 2012.
According to Save the Children Australia’s CEO Paul Ronalds, Australia has reneged on its promises to the world’s poor while sparing defence funding from the budget razor. Defence spending is important. But an overwhelming body of evidence also supports the view that investing in overseas aid helps to safeguard Australia’s national interests.
“Like defence, investing in aid also serves Australia’s national interest, helping to build peace and stability. Aid is not a handout, it is hand up that helps support economic growth in poorer nations, enabling them to become economies for Australia’s good and services,” he said.
The Government has also ditched an election promise to increase international aid in line with inflation until 2016-17. According to Save the Children an additional $850 million investment in international aid over the forward estimates could build 1,400 classrooms, enrol an extra 160,000 children in school, provide 140,000 PNG children with nutrition supplements and deliver 50,000 more babies with skilled birth attendants. That’s only if the Government had kept its promise to increase aid in line with inflation.
Cuts for the world’s poor are compounded by the Australian Government’s decision to effectively abandon plans to invest 0.5 per cent of national income on overseas aid. The target, which experts say should increase to 0.7 per cent of national income, has been called for by the UN as a means to halve global poverty and inequality. It is a target that successive Australian governments have backtracked on.
“Australia’s economy must be managed with fiscal responsibility underpinned by robust revenue and saving measures,” Mr Ronalds said. “However it should not come at the expense of help for the world’s poor, particularly when, by comparison, other recession-hit economies have kept their promise to increase aid spending.”
For example, the UK’s conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron described Britain’s foreign aid increase as his “one of his proudest achievement” in government and that “you don’t break your promise to the poorest people in the poorest countries in the world.”
Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities and currently works at Redkite, a childhood cancer charity.