Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s pledge to match the Federal Government’s commitment to foreign aid spending is welcome, but his plan to shift money away from Africa is a concern, international aid agency Oxfam Australia said today.
In an address to the Lowy Institute today, Mr Abbott reaffirmed that the Coalition will match the Government’s commitment to lift Australia’s aid spending to 0.5 per cent of gross national income (GNI) by 2015.
However, Mr Abbott said that under a Coalition Government the aid effort would focus on the Asia-Pacific region and he criticised the Government’s spending in Africa.
Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said Mr Abbott was wrong not to consider Africa a legitimate recipient of Australian aid.
“On average, nearly 16 per cent of children born in Sub-Saharan Africa will not reach age five.
The region accounts for half of the world’s 10 million under-five deaths, and its share is growing,” Mr Hewett said.
“Africa is the region of the world most off-track to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are international targets for reducing poverty.
“At the moment, Australia spends just 4.3 per cent of its overall aid program in Africa, despite the pressing needs.
“Australia does have a role to play in Africa. We have expertise to share in areas like farming in dry conditions, water management, as well as broader support we can offer for vital tasks such as reducing HIV and AIDS.
“We have the capacity to help people in Africa out of poverty, as well as continuing to play an important role in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Oxfam looks forward to seeing the Coalition’s detailed aid and development policy before the federal election.
For more information please contact Kate Thwaites on +61 407 515 559, firstname.lastname@example.org