The Federal Government has kept its ‘foot on the throat’ of the Australian aid budget, despite its improved revenue, concerns about China’s rising influence in the region and contrasting with the $3.8 billion previously announced loans scheme for arms dealers.
Total aid spending this year will be $4.16 billion in 2018/19 ($3.9b 2017/18) or just 0.23% of national income – and entrenching Australia as one of the lowest aid contributors. Australia now ranks 19th out of the 29 nations that give aid in Gross National Income.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull along with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Steven Ciobo have today launched Australia’s Foreign Affairs White Paper, outlining Australia’s foreign policy priorities for the coming years.
Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Australian Council for International Development, Joanna Pradela, said:
“We welcome the Government’s recognition that Australia’s values are the foundation on which our global engagement rests and are a vital piece of our influence in the world.
Members of Australia’s peak-body for aid and international development non-governmental organisations have called for “urgent humanitarian action” by the Australian Government to immediately cease the cruel, untenable situation which has seen refugees and asylum detained on Manus and Nauru for over four years.
ACFID has called for the Government to put stability first after the introduction of a stop-start aid budget which fails to match-up to the reality of global challenges, like climate change, food crises and the insecurity faced by displaced people.
The Australian aid budget as a percentage of national income has fallen to new historic lows, with spending of just 22 cents in every 100 dollars (AUD) in 2017-18, remaining on a downward trajectory to 20 cents in every $100 by 2020-21.
Commenting on the aid budget, following the lock-up at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, CEO of the Australian Council for International Development, Marc Purcell, said:
“Off the back of swinging cuts worth $11.3bn over the last four years, the aid budget is set to decline yet again. This is a further cut of over $300m over four years.