International aid agency Oxfam Australia is calling on the Australian Government to overturn its decision to divert funds from the overseas aid budget, following Treasurer Wayne Swan’s announcement that a budget surplus was unlikely this financial year.
Oxfam’s acting Executive Director Alexia Huxley said she hoped the change in the federal financial outlook would lead to better news for Australia’s overseas aid program, after the Government this week confirmed it was diverting $375 million of overseas aid money to fund refugees in Australia.
“Oxfam wants to see the Gillard Government restore this funding to the overseas aid program. We don’t want to see the Government plunder the aid budget to pay for its asylum seeker policy in Australia,” Ms Huxley said.
“Oxfam welcomes news the Government will not pursue a budget surplus at all costs,” she said.
“The Government has rightly dropped its commitment to a surplus and should now restore Australia’s commitment to the world’s poor.”
The $375 million the Government plans to cut from overseas aid programs is equivalent to the entire Australian aid budget this year for East Timor, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Samoa.
Aid groups like Oxfam are still awaiting news of which aid programs will be cut as a result of this decision.
Ms Huxley also pointed to new figures released this week as part of the annual World Giving Index that showed Australia was the most generous nation.
“This new study reinforces what we have known for a long time – that Australians are among the most charitable people in the world and they expect their government to be the same,” she said.
“Oxfam hopes the Australian Government will follow this example of generosity set by the Australian public and restore its aid budget to help some of the world’s poorest people overseas.”
For interviews or more information contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0400 732 795 or email@example.com