Overseas aid diversion becoming dangerous trend Oxfam warns

Campaigns and Advocacy, Foreign aid, Media Releases, News article written on the 07 Feb 2013

The release of a Coalition discussion paper canvassing $800 million in funding cuts reinforces that aid diversion is becoming an alarming trend in Australian politics, according to Oxfam Australia.

Following the release of the paper, Oxfam has called on the nation’s leaders to reaffirm their commitment to the overseas aid program, claiming it is not an ATM to fund domestic policy.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said further proposed cuts to the aid budget were deeply concerning as more than a billion people are living in extreme poverty in our region and around the world.

“Aid diversion is becoming a disturbing trend and will have dire consequences for the world’s poorest people. The Australian Government last year announced it would divert $375 million from the overseas aid budget to pay for asylum seeker costs in Australia so it’s now worrying the Coalition has flagged further aid diversion as a possibility.

“While Oxfam welcomes comments from Mr Abbott that this is a discussion paper only, and the Coalition has no policy to redirect the overseas aid budget, we urge the Government and Opposition in the lead up to the election to increase efforts to tackle global poverty,” said Dr Szoke.

The discussion paper proposes an $800 million cut from the overseas aid program to fund centres of excellence in tropical health and medical research in northern Australia.

Dr Szoke said the fundamental purpose of the aid program was to help the world’s poorest people and not to develop Australia’s north or pay for our flawed approach to managing asylum seekers.

“As one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we can afford to fund our policies in Australia and be a good global citizen.

“Just last week, a new Australian Government report showed once again that good aid works and had helped improve the lives of millions of people around the world.

“As we head towards the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals that aim to halve global poverty, we encourage both major parties to remain committed to grow the aid budget to 0.5 per cent of national income.”

For interviews or more information please contact Oxfam Australia media coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0412 560 584 or cheecheel@oxfam.org.au