Despite being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, Australia was last night ranked 13th in aid by the OECD, highlighting the need for Julia Gillard to keep her promise to increase the amount of Australian aid given to poor people around the world.
By keeping her promise to lift aid in this year’s budget, Prime Minister Gillard will allow Australia to save the lives of an additional 500,000 people each year and provide basic education for another 700,000 children in the world’s poorest communities.
Make Poverty History co-chairs – World Vision CEO Tim Costello and Oxfam Executive Director, Andrew Hewett – said today that Prime Minister Gillard’s on-the-record promise would make an enormous difference to poor people around the world.
“The Government went to both the 2010 and 2007 elections with the firm commitment that they would lift aid spending to 50 cents in every $100 of our gross national income by 2015,” Mr Costello said.
“The Prime Minister stated as recently as December 2011 that this commitment was ‘on track’, and we expect her to keep that promise given so many lives are at stake.
“Every day, 20,000 children die because they are living in poverty,” Mr Costello said.
“Australian aid is working to prevent this. We have helped to eradicate terrible diseases like polio in the Pacific and halve the number of people in the world without access to clean water.”
Mr Hewett said the Government’s promise to lift aid was echoed by Tony Abbott and the opposition when he said: “We match the Government’s commitment to 0.5 per cent by 2015. If our fiscal position improves we will try to do better (than 0.5 per cent) beyond 2015.”
Australia was ranked as the second wealthiest country in the world in a 2011 report by Credit Suisse. But in yesterday’s new aid figures, we rank just 13 out of 23 of the wealthy nations that give aid to developing countries, giving 0.35 per cent of our national income to aid, lower than the OECD average of 0.46 per cent.
“We can and must do better and Prime Minister Gillard delivering on her promise to increase aid means we will do better,” Mr Hewett said.
Our region has some of the highest levels of needless child deaths in the world, with East Timor for example ranking 142 out of 194 countries for child mortality and 18 of Australia’s closest neighbouring countries are developing.
“Australian aid will help the people of these nations and assure stability in our region. This is especially important at a time that the Prime Minister herself has dubbed ‘The Asian Century’,” Mr Hewett said.
“We are looking forward to seeing a budget that despite being reportedly ‘tough’ keeps its promise to the mothers, children and families around the world who are counting on our word.”
For interviews or more information contact Chee Chee Leung from Oxfam Australia on 0400 732 795 or firstname.lastname@example.org