The Australian Government has announced a further setback to its already eroded overseas aid program, despite today’s budget surplus announcement.
CARE Australia Chief Executive Sally Moyle said five years of aid cuts were already having devastating consequences for people living in poverty in neighbouring countries.
“Australian aid provides lifesaving healthcare, support for education and assistance to address gender inequalities in our region.”
“This is vital for supporting the development of our neighbours and for prosperity and stability in the region.”
“Yet the share of the federal budget for this assistance is already at its lowest level in history,” Ms Moyle said.
“With an increasing number of humanitarian crises around the world, and a potentially difficult storm season approaching, today was an opportunity to do better.”
“But instead we have learnt that the Government plans to reduce this even further to fund infrastructure projects in the region.”
“While we welcome the focus on our Pacific neighbours and recognise the importance of improved infrastructure, roads and bridges should not come at the expense of schools and health clinics.”
“Organisations like CARE Australia are working on the ground in Pacific nations and we see the day-to-day need for these services and programs.”
“Australia is a wealthy country with a healthy economy, and we can afford to fund infrastructure without putting people’s health and children’s futures at risk.”
Australia currently provides less overseas aid, as a percentage of gross national income, than 18 other developed countries including the UK, Germany, France, Canada, Japan and New Zealand.
Yet our strong economic growth was highlighted by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg as he handed down today’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, noting Australia’s economy is growing faster than the OECD average.
Ms Moyle said the Government has previously committed to revisit the aid budget once back in surplus.
“A surplus is now in sight, and not only is there no talk of increasing aid, but we are actually seeing an attempt to spread it dangerously thin.”
“Now is the time to step up our commitment to poverty-reduction, not back away from it.”
For interviews with CARE CEO Sally Moyle contact Iona Salter on 0419 567 777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org