Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has made the government’s sixth consecutive cut to Australia’s Official Development Assistance and plans to cease $500 million of existing aid projects in South-East Asia (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Indonesia and Pakistan) to fund an infrastructure facility for the Pacific.
Jody Lightfoot, director of Campaign for Australian Aid, said : ” Six consecutive cuts to Australia’s international development is a failure of moral leadership”
“The Prime Minister had an opportunity to show global leadership, instead he has chosen to pander to populism and cut vital services to our poorest neighbours”.
“Countries like the UK are now more than three times more generous than Australia in helping our poorest neighbours overcome poverty”.
The Coalition will reduce Australia’s Official Development Assistance to a new record low of 0.21% of GNI by 2019-20.
“The Coalition has broken their own record for being the least generous government in Australia’s history” – said Mr Lightfoot.
“Australian aid has saved the lives of 230,000 children through our health programs in the last two decades. Cutting services that support kids in poverty does not reflect the willingness of Australians to help people in need.”
“Despite a budget surplus, the Prime Minister has missed an opportunity to restore a legacy of bipartisanship for Australia’s international development.”
Aid and development groups have raised concerns about the EFIC (Support for Infrastructure Financing) bill which contains no requirement that any infrastructure project supported by EFIC must benefit the recipient country.
“Development projects in the Pacific should put the needs of our Pacific neighbours first” – said Mr Lightfoot.
“A step up in Pacific should not mean a step down in Asia, particularly when Australia’s international development has been cut to its lowest level ever.”
The Labor Party has committed in their party platform to increase Australia’s Official Development Assistance as a percentage of gross national income every year in office starting with their first budget.