ON FRIDAY, September 12, the House of Commons has voted to progress a bill to bring the United Kingdom a step closer to commit 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) towards its international aid program.
This is truly historic for the UK. In stark contrast, Australia’s aid level has declined from 0.35% of GNI to 0.32% of GNI in the last two years.
“What is especially impressive about this is that a predominantly Conservative British government – in the middle of a slow recovery from a dramatic financial crisis – not only managed to reach 0.7% but will likely preside over it being enshrined in law to lock this commitment in for the foreseeable future,” RESULTS International (Australia) CEO, Maree Nutt, said.
“This is a huge wake up call for our own Government and other political parties that it can be done.
“Wouldn’t it be inspiring to see this type of cross-party support here?” Ms Nutt said.
While the UK bill is a private member’s bill, members of all political parties in the House of Commons showed very strong support for the objectives and provisions of the bill.
“It’s disappointing that here in Australia successive governments have backed away from what was a bipartisan commitment to reach 0.5% of GNI by 2015-16. This would not have been possible if the commitment been legislated,” Ms Nutt said.
The UK was contributing only 0.32% of GNI in aid in 2000 (the same as Australia’s current level of aid), and the sustained growth in the UK’s aid since then demonstrates what is possible with political vision and commitment.
“The current cross-party support for maintaining the level of aid through legislation is a tribute to the consistent work of global poverty campaigners in the UK, not least ourcolleagues at RESULTS UK,” Ms Nutt added.