INTERNATIONAL aid organisation CARE Australia has urged the Government to end the cuts to Australia’s aid budget after it slashed $7.6 billion in Australian aid over the coming five years.
Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey announced a $7.6 billion cut to Australia’s foreign aid program in addition to $660 million in cuts already announced in January and the four-year, $4.5 billion cut announced by the Coalition before last year’s election.
CARE Australia’s Principal Executive – International Operations, Robert Yallop said the Government had back flipped from its commitment to the poorest people in our region.
‘This is a disappointing result for Australia’s contribution to our region. Aid is one of the most effective investments Australia can make in the security and prosperity of our region. It fosters economic growth and stability, and above all, results in fewer children dying from malnutrition and fewer mothers dying during
pregnancy and childbirth.
Mr Yallop said Australia’s aid program had already been subjected to huge cuts throughout 2012 and 2013, and tonight’s reductions would further damage Australia’s international reputation.
‘The Australian aid program has already taken some enormous hits over the past two years, and these cuts may begin to put many of the outstanding gains made in our region at risk,’ he said.
‘As a nation we do not have to choose between Australia’s economic interests and helping the 1.3 billion people living in extreme poverty. Australia is still one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and we can afford to do both.’
He added that the Government’s refusal to put a timeframe on bringing aid funding to 0.5 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) – just fifty cents in every 100 dollars – was particularly disappointing.
‘The Coalition has repeatedly stated its commitment – before and after being elected – to bring aid funding to at least 0.5 per cent of GNI, yet has refused to commit to a timeframe to make this happen. This budget was an opportunity to outline a timeframe for this commitment.
‘By continuing to defer this commitment, Australia will fall further behind similar-sized OECD nations such as the United Kingdom (0.72 per cent of GNI), Netherlands (0.67 per cent) and Denmark (0.85 per cent).’
He said the Government did, however, deserve recognition for prioritising women and girls as part of the aid budget.
‘As an organisation that firmly believes that women’s empowerment is one of the cornerstones of ending poverty, we thank the Government for its strong focus on improving life for the region’s women,’ Mr Yallop said.
CARE Australia is an international humanitarian aid organisation fighting poverty, with a special focus on working with women and girls to bring lasting change to their communities. www.care.org.au.