Will Rudd deliver for those hit hardest by the global financial crisis?

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 11 May 2009

Watching the budget: Will Rudd deliver for those hit hardest by the global financial crisis?
The Rudd Government must help the people hit hardest by the global financial crisis and deliver a real increase in foreign aid spending in tomorrow night’s budget, international aid agency Oxfam said today.
The Government has previously committed to lifting Australia’s aid spending to 0.5 per cent of gross national income (GNI) by 2015, from its current level of 0.32 per cent of GNI.
But with Australia’s income dropping, the actual dollar amount this translates to for overseas aid may not increase as much as it should, at the time when it’s needed the most.
Oxfam Director of Public Policy, James Ensor said there was no doubt that the financial crisis is hitting people in poorer countries the hardest.
“The World Bank has estimated that more than two and a half million more children may die if the crisis persists over the next six years,” Mr Ensor said.
“That’s why we need to see the Australian Government not just meet a percentage increase in its aid budget, but deliver extra money that can provide essentials like food, clean water and access to healthcare.
“The British Government recognised this need in its recent budget, and promised to actually spend more on aid, rather than just meet a percentage of falling national income. The Rudd Government should do the same,” he said.
Oxfam will also be watching tomorrow night’s budget to see if the Government delivers on climate change.
As a leading aid agency working with poor communities around the world, Oxfam is already seeing vulnerable people in the developing world bearing the brunt of climate change, through greater droughts, floods, hunger and disease.
Australia is one of the world’s highest per capita polluters and has a responsibility to help those people in developing countries cope with the escalating impact of climate change.
On budget night the Rudd Government needs to significantly increase funding to help vulnerable communities adapt to their changing environment.
With a global shortfall of around $64 billion for this crucial assistance, Oxfam calculates that Australia’s fair share is around $2 billion and Australia should aim to reach this target by 2015.
In this year’s budget, we’ll be looking for at least $600 million in new and additional funding as the next step towards reaching Australia’s fair share. A significant portion of this funding should go to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), with other priorities including capacity building, disaster preparedness, livelihoods and migration in the Pacific region.
For more information or to arrange an interview with Oxfam Director of Public Policy, James Ensor, please call Kate Thwaites on 0407 515 559