Responding to reports that Australia is stuck at the same level in global aid rankings just released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said:
“The disappointing news that Australia has stagnated in global aid rankings comes only a week after the Australian Government cut the aid budget for the sixth consecutive year in the Federal Budget.
“The OECD’s newly released aid rankings have seen Australia stay at 19 to out of 29 wealthy OECD nations that give aid. Yet we’re the 13th largest economy.
“Overall, it’s really disheartening to see that development aid spending also decreased globally, including to the world’s poorest countries. This will cost lives and exacerbate poverty, inequality and instability across the world.
“It’s shameful that most rich countries, including Australia, still fail to meet the level of development aid agreed more than fifty years ago.
“Despite Australia’s predicted Budget surplus and a growing economy, we have seen continuing cuts to the aid budget, meaning aid will continue its downward trajectory to a historic low of just 19 cents of every $100 of Gross National Income in 2021/ 22.
“This is well below the average of other countries, and proportionately less than countries with a lower GDP than our own – including New Zealand, Belgium and Ireland.
“The cut in aid to the poorest and most vulnerable countries is alarming, and Australia’s aid budget is a case in point. Our increased focus on the Pacific, while cutting aid more broadly, has come at the expense of the poorest people in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The world’s richest nations cannot turn their backs on the poorest.
“Evidence clearly shows that economic and gender inequality is holding back poverty reduction. While more aid is needed, governments also have to go beyond the mere numbers and make sure they invest in truly inequality-busting aid.
“For instance, more support for government spending on nurses and teachers can save and transform lives and help elevate people’s voice to challenge the unfair rules that perpetuate inequality. At the same time, rich countries have to make sure their policies in areas like trade, tax or climate don’t thwart their development efforts.
“What we need from the Australian Government is increased funding for Australian aid to meet growing global challenges, including multiple protracted humanitarian crises, extreme poverty, increasing inequality and escalating climate damage – which is hitting the poorest people first and worst, particularly in the Pacific.”