World Vision Chief Executive, Tim Costello has called for an end to the ‘madness of endless aid cuts’ following the Turnbull Government’s decision to further slash the Australian aid budget to its lowest level ever in the nation’s history.
Mr Costello said the continuing cuts were a tragedy of untold consequences that saw the world’s most vulnerable bearing the brunt of budget savings over the past three years.
The fresh cuts of $225 million announced as part of the Federal Budget follows three years of brutal cuts that have now slashed more than $1 billion from the Australian aid budget.
“This latest round of cuts puts lives and futures at risk as well as regional and global security and prosperity; it’s both unwise and unworthy of our nation,” he said.
Tonight marked the commencement of the election campaign, Mr Costello said, but if Malcolm Turnbull is re-elected he will preside over an Australian aid budget that will remain at its lowest level ever for the life of the next parliament.
“The madness of endless aid cuts was launched by Tony Abbott two days before the last federal election, now Mr Turnbull and Mr Shorten have the opportunity to come together to change that.
The head of World Vision called on both the Government and Opposition to stop cutting aid and commit to restoring Australian aid to its pre-cuts level of $5.5 billion.
“All parties have 60 days to commit to restoring the aid budget to the previous level of a $5.5 billion (only 0.3% GNI),” Mr Costello said. “We call on all parties to commit to making this happen over the life of the next parliament.”
He said it was particularly disappointing that aid to support fragile states in our region such as Myanmar, Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to be cut. Despite the near ending of bilateral program even our commitment to multilateral program in Africa continues to decline he said.
World Vision welcomes the government’s strengthened commitment to the Syria crisis. This will bring long term stability to the funding of that crisis and end the practice of pitting funding for cyclones in the Pacific against the Syria crisis.
However, a declining aid budget has forced a reduction in the flexibility in funding for emergencies.
Mr Costello welcomed the decision of the Department of Foreign Affairs to respond to the sector’s call for greater transparency with the release of detailed information on the aid budget.