International aid agency Oxfam Australia is calling on Australia’s political leaders to keep their aid promise to the world’s poor, after the UK Government this week announced it would meet its commitment to lift overseas aid spending to 0.7 per cent of its national income.
Oxfam’s Director of Public Engagement Gregg Vines said the UK’s pledge to increase aid spending in the face of its own difficult financial circumstances showed that helping to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people was an issue that was too important for party politics.
“Australia has one of the leading economies in the world, but we only give 0.35 per cent of our national income to overseas aid. We can afford to do better to help provide lifesaving support such as health, education and clean water to the world’s poor,” Mr Vines said.
“This week’s move on aid spending by the UK Conservatives shows that keeping the promise to the world’s poor can be done, despite a challenging domestic financial situation. Tough economic times at home are no excuse for failing to meet the pledge to fight global poverty.
“While there has been important progress towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals that aim to halve global poverty by 2015, there is still much work to be done. Around the world, one in eight people – 870 million women, men and children – still go to bed hungry every night. The majority of these people live in our region, in Asia and the Pacific.”
Oxfam is urging both major parties to provide bipartisan support to Australia’s commitment to increasing overseas aid to 0.5 per cent of national income by 2016-17, and to set a deadline to reach levels of 0.7 per cent.
“The upcoming federal budget in May will be a test of the Australian Government’s commitment to helping reduce global poverty. Now is not the time to shy away from our international obligations,” Mr Vines said.
“With Australia’s seat on the UN Security Council, and its presidency of the G20 next year, whichever party forms government at this year’s federal election will need to show leadership at the international level on keeping our promise to the world’s poorest.”
For interviews or more information contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0412 560 584 or firstname.lastname@example.org