This Budget shows the Rudd Government is delivering on its 2007 election commitment on aid spending, but has fallen short of meeting its international climate change commitments, international aid agency Oxfam Australia said.
Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett commended the Government for staying on track to keep its 2007 election pledge to increase aid spending to 0.5 per cent of gross national income (GNI) by 2015.
Mr Hewett said the Government’s commitment to spend $4.3 billion on foreign aid in 2010/11 was an important step towards Australia making a real contribution to helping the world’s poorest people, many of whom were still feeling the effects of the global financial crisis.
He said the fact that the Government was now using new international accounting standards to calculate GNI would lead to a more than doubling of the aid budget by 2015.
The initiatives of increased aid to Africa and Indonesia, education and disability services were welcome, but what was missing in this financial year was additional funding to help the poorest people around the world adapt to the effects of climate change.
“The World Bank has estimated 50,000 more children in sub-Saharan Africa may have died as a result of the financial crisis last year,” Mr Hewett said. “The strength of Australia’s economy does give us the ability to do more to help people who live without basics like enough food, water and shelter.
“What we now need to see from the Government is a commitment to reaching aid levels of 0.7 per cent GNI and a roadmap on how it will do this, as Australia is still lagging behind many other developed countries that have promised to meet this internationally agreed target.”
Oxfam is disappointed there is no new money allocated in this financial year to helping developing countries cope with climate change, given the urgency of the climate crisis facing poor people around the world.
He said that while the $350.4 million in 2012-13 for climate finance was a contribution to Australia’s global climate change responsibility, it was disappointing it came from existing aid commitments, rather than the now defunct ETS bucket.
“Climate funding is vital to help developing countries deal with the effects of climate change, but it needs to be in addition to the existing aid budget,” Mr Hewett said. “Otherwise we are forcing developing countries to make choices about whether they build hospitals or build flood defences.
“People in developing countries are least responsible for climate change, yet they are already feeling its effects. As one of the world’s highest per capita polluters Australia should be doing its fair share to help the most vulnerable people in poorer countries deal with a climate crisis that is not of their making.”
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