ACFID: Coalition’s Pacific pledge will strengthen regional recovery

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) has welcomed statements by the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator The Hon. Zed Seselja, in support of Australia’s ongoing foreign aid program.

Speaking at a forum co-hosted by ACFID on Friday, Minister Seselja reiterated the Coalition’s plans to provide an additional $324 million in economic support to the Pacific in 2022-23, along with a range of other financial measures such as increased funding for loans.

ACFID has welcomed the Coalition’s stated commitment to ongoing funding for international aid assistance, and also Minister Seselja’s pledge to build on Partnerships for Recovery, delivering practical assistance in health security, economic recovery and stability.

“As Australia’s geostrategic environment continues to shift, it will be appropriate for a new government to lay out a new approach,” said Minister Seselja.

“We’ll look to more fully integrate the development objectives of our ODA and non-ODA funding.”

However he said Australia’s foreign aid is not confined to ODA (Overseas Development Assistance) but incorporates a mix of values, human capital and relationships.

“The Coalition sees the development program making a fundamental contribution to shared prosperity, shared stability and shared security across the region,” said Minister Seselja.

The forum, the final of three delivered by political leaders across the spectrum ahead of the May 21st election, was co-hosted by the ANU’s Development Policy Centre and International Development Contractors Community.

Speaking to an audience of development experts, Minister Seselja said that the development program supports democratic elections, free media, human rights and police and courts across the Indo-Pacific.

He also singled out the Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme as central to the Coalition’s future plans for international development, and that the government is open to permanent resettlement provisions within an expanded scheme.

The forum, the final of three delivered by political leaders across the spectrum ahead of the May 21st election, was co-hosted by the ANU’s Development Policy Centre and International Development Contractors Community.

Responding to the speech, Marc Purcell, CEO of ACFID said:

“We welcome Mr Seselja’s support of the international development program.

“In a regional context where the Pacific has suffered the financial and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic deeply, any initiative which helps people to meet their basic needs is very welcome.”

However ACFID is urging the Coalition to set out fully-framed goals on aid spending and delivery, and also to ensure that the core purpose of its aid program is human development and poverty alleviation.

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