International aid organisation CARE Australia has slammed the Government’s cuts to foreign aid announced by Treasurer Joe Hockey in today’s Mid‐year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, questioning whether the Government is serious about its stated objective for Australian aid to be more effective and well‐planned.
Mr Hockey today announced a $3.7 billion cut to Australia’s international aid program, on top of the $7.6 billion in cuts announced in May’s budget, a total of $11.3 billion of cuts announced this year.
CARE Australia CEO Dr Julia Newton‐Howes AM said despite its many statements on the need for Australian aid to be predictable and consistent, the Government was continuing to use Australia’s aid program as a piggy bank to be raided.
“The government has repeatedly emphasised the need for Australia’s aid program to be more effective and well‐planned. Continually raiding the aid budget to suit short‐term needs is hardly effective, nor well‐planned,” said Dr Newton‐Howes.
“This massive cut will mean a number of programs will likely be halted or severely reduced, mid‐way through their delivery. It puts at risk much of the hard‐won gains Australia has made in our region, and is, to put it simply, a completely ineffective way to deliver aid.”
Dr Newton‐Howes said today’s announcement demonstrated short‐sightedness from the Government, and would push Australia further out of step with like-minded countries such as the UK, Germany and Japan, all of which have increased their international aid budgets.
“Australia’s growth and prosperity is inherently tied to the health and prosperity of our closest neighbours, of which 18 of 20 are developing countries. Today’s cuts demonstrate, despite Australia’s recent efforts at the G20, that the Government is looking to further isolate itself from like‐minded nations, most of whom are increasing their aid budget, despite being in far tougher economic positions,” she said.
Dr Newton‐Howes said what was particularly disappointing was the Treasurer’s insistence that foreign aid was being cut in order to support additional national security initiatives.
“International aid is one of the most cost‐effective investments in the security and stability of our region. It promotes prosperity, economic growth and above all, saves lives.
“The Ebola crisis has demonstrated how poverty can quickly become a national security threat. The best way to secure Australia’s future is to be a good global citizen that invests in internationally‐agreed levels of funding to help solve global problems such as poverty and climate change,” Dr Newton‐Howes 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.