Minor increase in aid budget but Government should have done more

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 12 May 2009

Minor increase in aid budget but Government should have done more
The Rudd Government has made a minor increase to its overseas aid spending, but fallen short of what’s needed to help the people being hurt most by the global financial crisis, international aid agency Oxfam said tonight.
Oxfam’s Director of Public Policy James Ensor said the Government has outlined plans to spend $3.8 billion dollars on aid this year, up from $3.7 billion last year.
“Oxfam is pleased the Government says it wants to meet its commitment to lift Australia’s aid spending to 0.5 per cent of gross national income by 2015, but it still needs to increase this to the internationally agreed target of 0.7 per cent by 2015,” Mr Ensor said.
“The budget predicts the global financial crisis will plunge an extra 60 million people in the Asia-Pacific region into poverty, surviving on less than $1.50 a day. But the Government hasn’t increased aid spending by as much as it forecast last year.
“The Government will now have to make far greater increases to its aid spending in coming years, to ensure it remains on track to achieve its own 2015 commitment,” he said.
“The British Government led the way in its budget, acknowledging the seriousness of the global financial crisis by promising a decent increase to aid. Australia should be doing the same.
“Despite the disappointing level of aid spending, Oxfam is pleased with a range of priorities outlined for the aid program. We particularly welcome the focus on the Millennium Development Goals and greater investment in basic education, health and food security.
“It is vital we ensure limited aid dollars are spent effectively to bring about real change in the lives of poor people, so the increased emphasis on aid effectiveness, public reporting and evidence-based policy is particularly welcome.”
Oxfam is also disappointed the Rudd Government has not made any new commitments to help vulnerable communities facing greater droughts, floods, hunger and disease caused by climate change.
This is despite the fact the Government recognises in its climate change budget statement that a global solution requires helping the most vulnerable to adapt, and supporting those countries least able to cope with climate change.
“As one of the world’s highest per capita polluters, Australia has a responsibility to help poor people in developing countries adapt to the affects of climate change,” Mr Ensor said.
For more information or to arrange an interview with James Ensor please call Kate Thwaites on 0407 515 559