Australia confirms AusAID fund diversion details
Australia's government has confirmed the details of a plan to divert AusAID funds to pay for the upkeep of asylum seekers.
Australia's government on Friday confirmed the details of a plan to divert aid funds from the Pacific and South East Asia to pay for the upkeep of asylum seekers in Australia.
Last year, the government announced $375 million of the existing aid budget would be used to pay for the living expenses of asylum seekers being processed on the mainland.
It has now revealed that more than $50 million of that funding will be diverted from the Pacific budgets.
$38 million will be cut from the Indonesia budget, $10 million from East Timor, $14 million from Cambodia, $5 million from Burma and $6 million from Laos.
Head of CARE Australia, Dr Julia Newton-Howes, told Radio Australia's Connect Asia she's horrified.
"It demonstrates just how bad these decisions have been for the 1.3 billion people in the world who live on less than $1.25 a day," she said.
In particular she pointed out that the very large cut to Australia's humanitarian contribution means that some of the most vulnerable people in the world won't get the level of assistance from Australia that was committed to at the beginning of the year.
"That's very bad news," Ms Newton-Howes said.
"The further information we would like is if for the government to identify not just how much has been cut from each country program, but what activities in that country's program has been cut.
"What we are concerned about is that the money that's most directly linked to poverty and poor people will be hardest hit."
Dr Newton-Howes says it's disappointing that the detailed information has not yet been made available and she would like this to happen as soon as possible.
"Because AusAID has a transparency charter where it commits to making information about its aid programs publically available," she said.
She says that what constitutes foreign aid needs to be redefined.
"I think that including asylum seeker costs as foreign aid is inappropriate and should not be allowed to happen."