Save the Children has expressed its dismay after Australian aid was cut for the sixth consecutive year in a Federal Budget which celebrated a forecast return to surplus.
Save the Children Australia CEO Paul Ronalds said the severe cuts to aid were particularly hard to take when cash was being splashed around ahead of the Federal Election.
“When the Budget is predicted to return to surplus, it is absurd that Australian aid should suffer more cuts,” said Mr Ronalds.
“To see cuts come from vital aid in our region is even more shocking and senseless. That’s neither rebuilding our international credibility nor enhancing our influence in the region.
“This Government doesn’t seem to understand the strategic value of aid to our national interests, or international reputation”.
The Budget confirms that almost $100 million cut from Australian aid to Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal and Pakistan in 2019-20 will be redirected to the Government’s new infrastructure facility for the Pacific.
“Infrastructure, on its own, will not ensure the Pacific reaches its full economic potential,” said Mr Ronalds.
“Malnutrition poses one of the greatest threats to the survival and development of over half a million children in PNG.”
“Without a healthy, educated workforce, sustainable economic growth will continue to elude Pacific nations like Papua New Guinea.”
“We welcome investment in the Pacific, but not at the cost of a child’s future and a region’s future economic prosperity.”
Australia’s foreign aid budget has now been cut six years in a row, falling from $5.05billion in 2013/14 to $4 billion in 2019/20. This is a total cut of almost 30 percent in real terms.
“Make no mistake, this is going to have huge ramifications on Australia’s ability to help some of the most vulnerable children and families in our region, and around the world.”
“In his first speech to Parliament, the Prime Minister acknowledged that that the need for aid is not diminishing and we must do more. It is simply inconceivable that a decade later, this Budget could deliver the sixth consecutive cut to aid.”
“The need is not diminishing, nor can our support. It is the Australian thing to do.”
Scott Morrison – First Speech – February 2008