Responding to the Mid-year Economic Fiscal Outlook, in which there were no details on new aid commitments, Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said:
“This was a chance to rebuild the aid budget at a time when the world is grappling with not just extreme poverty and crippling inequality but a climate change emergency and a number of long-term humanitarian crises,” Dr Szoke said.
“We know that the government will divert $500 million or more from overseas aid to Pacific Infrastructure if successful at the next election.
“We can do better than robbing Peter to pay Paul – simply shifting what little aid Australia already gives from one region to another. This does nothing to tackle these complex global challenges or establish Australia as a strong leader with a voice on the global stage.
“If the government is to support infrastructure in the region it should be in addition to the existing aid program, not taken from it.
“Also any infrastructure investment in the region must be resilient to the impacts of climate change and stimulate inclusive economic growth that benefits people living in poverty.
“Australia is a wealthy, generous country, and continued neglect of a depleted aid budget, which is now just 0.22 per cent of budget spend, does not represent our values.
“Australians deserve economic leadership that prioritises a time-bound and stable aid program that leaves no one behind, bolsters the capacity and responsibility of countries to provide for all their citizens, and helps to build resilience in an increasingly risky world.”