The 2019-20 Budget confirms six years of cuts and chaos will continue to drive Australia’s overseas development assistance to yet another record low.
Aid spending will fall by a further $115 million next financial year, adding to the more than $11 billion cut from the aid budget under the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government.
These cuts will take aid spending to just 0.19 per cent of GNI or 19 cents in every $100 – the lowest level on record – and on the current budget trajectory, it is forecast to drop to as low as just 0.16 per cent.
What’s more, the Government’s ‘step up’ in the Pacific is funded through a step down in Asia – with further cuts across key countries such as Indonesia.
These cuts have lessened Australia’s influence precisely at the same time our national interest compels us to engage more deeply.
It is irresponsible, and counter to our national interest, to raid programs in one group of partner nations to fund others.
Supporting and building the Pacific region to the detriment of other nations will not serve our relationships, our influence, and our long-term prosperity and security.
The government must commit to not make further cuts to aid as part of the further savings hidden in the Budget Papers in “decisions taken but not yet announced”.
The Coalition’s unprecedented cuts to development assistance of the last five years have caused great harm to some of the poorest people in our region.
They hurt our reputation internationally, and undermine our national interest.
They have harmed our efforts to alleviate poverty, and make our region safer and more secure. They have diminished our standing in the region.
They are also at odds with the generous spirit of the Australian people.
That is why a Shorten Labor Government will increase Official Development Assistance as a percentage of Gross National Income every year that we are in office, starting with our first Budget.
In government, Labor will rebuild and grow Australia’s international development program and increase Official Development Assistance.
Rebuilding Australia’s international development assistance program is a core element of Labor’s foreign policy.
Labor believes Australia can show humanity, decency and compassion to ensure a fair go for all – at home, on our doorstep, and abroad.
Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.