Party Election Costings Statement: ACFID

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) – Australia’s peak-body for Australian aid NGOs – has issued a statement on international development spending following the release of election costings today and recent statements by the Coalition, Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens.

The Australian Greens have taken a principled stance to spend 0.7% of Australia’s national income on development assistance by 2030. If Australians are to live in a peaceful, prosperous and stable world and we are to address shared global challenges like future pandemics and climate change, this is the sort of investment we need.
Despite being a signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals, Australia is woefully short of achieving them and woefully short on investment.
Labor’s financial pledges to deepen ties with the Pacific and Southeast Asia are in the best interests of the region and Australia. They are also not temporary and targeted measures, but permanent. It signals that a Labor government would deepen Australia’s ties with our neighbours.
Practical development cooperation which Labor has set out in areas like climate change will help deliver greater human security, stability and closer relationships with our partners.
However, the ALP’s costings show that over the forward estimates Labor would move away from, not towards their platform commitment of spending 0.5% of Australia’s Gross National Income on development assistance.
The ALP’s platform sets out that the party would “increase aid as a percentage of Gross National Income every year that we are in office starting with our first budget”. On the basis of the costings set out today and the economic projections we have, that will not be the case.
There has been an absence of new financial commitments for international development by the Coalition during the election period.
The Coalition’s costings on international development remain unchanged from the March Federal budget. On those projections, this would mean sinking to 18 cents of every $100 of Australia’s Gross National Income for development assistance by 2023-24 – a new, historic low.
Both the Foreign Minister and Minister for International Development and the Pacific have given indications on their direction of travel on international development, but the absence of a renewed ambition for development cooperation and humanitarian assistance is concerning given the difficult international environment Australia faces and the signals of cooperation we should be sending to our region, allies and partners.
Alongside the Australian public, ACFID and our members, members of the diplomacy and defence communities, many of Australia’s allies and partners, and many of Australia’s political leaders have emphasised that the international development budget does not reflect our changing strategic circumstances, our regional and global interests, or our values. The debate over the Solomon-Islands-China co-operation agreement has only sharpened this sentiment.
In Australia’s history, there have been rare occasions where the moral, human development, and strategic imperatives for greater investment in development assistance has been as compelling.
Both major parties have set out their intention to re-examine Australia’s international development strategy in office. When that opportunity comes, the next australian government must deliver a new, more ambitious vision and a greater budget trajectory to deliver it.
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