Labor is deeply concerned at reports of further cuts to international development assistance in tomorrow’s Budget.
Australia has a deep interest in contributing to global poverty alleviation, and our international development program supports security and stability in our region.
At the same time as it committed to a $50 billion tax cut to big business, the 2016-17 Budget delivered the weakest levels of Australian development assistance in history, spending just 23 cents in every $100 of our national income on foreign aid.
OECD data confirms Australia recording one of the largest decreases in international development assistance in the developed world in 2016, falling by 12.7 per cent in real terms.
According to the ANU’s Development Policy Centre Australia dropped one place in the OECD rankings on development assistance volume, and dropped three places, to 17th on development assistance effort.
Over the next decade this will get even worse, with the Turnbull Government’s budget figures forecasting our international development program will fall to just 0.17 per cent of GNI.
The Abbott/Turnbull Government has abandoned Australia’s bipartisan commitment to GNI growth, overseeing a 24.2 per cent cut to the development budget since 2013.
Theresa May’s recent commitment to enshrine Britain’s aid commitment in legislation shows international development can be bipartisan and doesn’t have to be a progressive/conservative issue.
Britain’s commitment was made possible by genuine and sustained support from administrations on both sides of politics in the UK, just as it could be here.
The Turnbull Government’s cuts to development assistance are already a source of international embarrassment for Australia, and are at odds with the generous spirit of the Australian people.
Instead of continuing to prioritise massive tax cuts for big business, Julie Bishop must rule out further cuts to Australia’s already embarrassingly low level of international development assistance in tomorrow’s Budget.