International development agency Oxfam Australia will be watching tomorrow night’s budget to see if Australia remains on track to meeting its aid promise to the world’s poorest people.
Under a commitment agreed to by both major parties back in 2007, Australia’s overseas aid budget will reach 0.5 per cent of our national income by 2015.
Australia currently gives just 33 cents in every $100 dollars to overseas aid. This ranks it 15 out of the world’s 23 richest nations in terms of aid budgets.
Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said the Government needed to use this year’s budget to keep Australia on the path to meeting the bipartisan aid commitment, which was agreed to following significant public campaigning from Australian supporters of development.
“There are few areas of Australian Government spending where such small amounts of money can make such a huge difference to people’s lives.
“Helping people find a path out of poverty is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also good for all Australians to be living in a more stable and prosperous region.
“Australian aid saves and improves lives, and help to foster economic growth and security in our region.
Mr Hewett said it was a critical time for Australia’s aid program, with the Government currently considering its response to the recently completed independent review of aid effectiveness.
“This is the first review of the aid program since 1996, and a chance to make sure we use our aid dollars in a way that has the greatest, positive impact on the lives of poor people.”
And with just four years until the 2015 deadline for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals – which aim to halve global poverty – Mr Hewett said there was an urgent need to keep the aid budget moving in the right direction.
“Despite the difficult economic times, Australia is still one of the world’s wealthiest countries. We can afford to help those at home and provide aid to those overseas who are less fortunate than ourselves.
“While there is progress in the fight against poverty, more still needs to be done. Our neighbours are some of the poorest nations in the world and Australia’s aid is vital to help save the lives of poor and vulnerable men, women and children.”
Notes to editors:
Andrew Hewett will be in Canberra on Tuesday May 10 and Wednesday May 11 and available for interviews pre and post budget. For interviews or more information contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0400 732 795.