Tim Costello: Labor’s Pacific pledge welcome, now Coalition must step up

Micah

Micah Australia welcomes Labor’s pledge to increase foreign aid spending including extra funding for climate change adaptation for the Pacific region.

Labor will boost Australian Official Development Assistance for Pacific countries and Timor-Leste by $525 million over the next four years.

Executive Director of Micah Australia Reverend Tim Costello is now calling on the Coalition to reverse cuts to spending and lift its foreign aid commitment.

“We have always condemned cuts to aid as both morally and strategically wrong and we have unfortunately seen the consequences of this in both Afghanistan and Solomon Islands,” said Reverend Costello.

“Last year, Australia’s aid reached a historic low of 0.21 per cent of Gross National Income and it is set to fall even further this year, before dropping to just 0.18 per cent in 2023-24.

“When compared to other wealthy donor nations of the OECD, this ranks Australia 21st out of 29 countries.

“At the same time, the COVID pandemic has wreaked havoc on low-income countries. Extreme poverty has risen by 150 million people. This year, 274 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection.

“It is clear we must return to the bi-partisan commitment that once existed from both parties, reaching an aid investment level of 0.5 per cent of our income in development cooperation and humanitarian assistance.

“The Morrison Government provided a number of important temporary and targeted packages during the pandemic which we have welcomed but it is crucial we commit to assisting the region in the long-term.

“The Coalition should step up to a commitment that would see 50 cents of each $100 of Australia’s national income spent on international development.

“That target is a relatively modest investment and should be enshrined in legislation so we can build true long-term partnerships in our region and help tackle the tremendous global issues of our time, including rising conflict and climate change.

“Further, we call on both parties to commit to creating a safer world for all by restoring Australia’s refugee program to 20,000 places per year and increasing emergency life-saving humanitarian aid to conflict and hunger hotspots.”

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