Rudd delivers on aid promises but Australia remains below international standards

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 13 May 2008

The Rudd Government has honoured its pre-election commitment and delivered a modest increase of $500 million this year in its contribution to making poverty history, international aid agency Oxfam said tonight.
However, Australian aid continues to lag behind other rich countries commitment to an aid level of .7 per cent of Gross National Income. Tonight’s budget brings Australia to .32 per cent of our GNI and is in line with the Rudd Governments commitment to increase it to .5 per cent by 2015.
Oxfam Director of Public Policy, James Ensor, said the international aid component of the budget over the next four years was encouraging, but lacked the boldness needed to address poverty and inequality in our region.
“Importantly, tonight’s budget goes marginally beyond Prime Minister Rudd’s pre-election promises to increase the aid budget to $3.5 billion in 2008-09 by actually increasing it to $3.7 billion,” Mr Ensor said.
“It is also a budget that flags Australia’s re-engagement with the United Nations and its agencies with an additional $200 million over four years to provide greater support to the UN.
“However, this is not the bold and visionary budget that will elevate Australia to the forefront of rich country efforts to make poverty history, with many other rich countries committed to spending .7 per cent of their GNI by 2015.
“In football parlance, the budget will lift us off the bottom of the ladder of rich countries performance, but won’t get us anywhere near the top eight, let alone being top of the ladder as befits our leadership position in the region.”
Mr Ensor said that Prime Minister Rudd had himself commented that “it is in our own interests to tackle poverty in our region, as part of a wider strategy to deal with the impact of terrorism, climate change, pandemics and refugees on Australia”.
Mr Ensor said in line with these goals Oxfam welcomed budget increases in Australia’s investment in partnerships with countries in our region including Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Indonesia and increased investment in Africa.
“We also welcome specifically investment in the Pacific Leadership Program which helps build capacity in those countries and prepares them for the future.”
To arrange an interview with James Ensor or for more information call Louise Perry on 0414 456 015.