Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Helen Szoke said the conservative UK Government was now leading the way internationally, and highlighted the fact that Australia’s aid effort was lagging far behind with its aid budget to be reduced to its lowest ever level of just 22c in every $100 by 2016.
“The conservative UK Government has blazed the way with this parliamentary bill,” Dr Szoke said.
“They have proven that the Millennium Development Goal of an aid spend of 0.7 per cent of gross national income is not unachievable. In fact, it is a modest commitment for nations like ours that are among the wealthiest in the world.”
On passing the legislation, the UK Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening pointed out that the bill would ensure the UK was a leader in creating “a world that is healthier, more stable and increasingly prosperous”.
“Meanwhile, Australia’s commitment to fairness and aid is rapidly plummeting,” Dr Szoke said.
“The cuts to Australian aid announced in MYEFO in December are unprecedented, and will see the aid program drop by an enormous 20 per cent in real terms next financial year.
“To put it simply, these cuts are likely to mean some of our programs that reach the poorest people in remote areas will become unviable.
“In contrast to the UK Government, the Australian Government has treated our aid budget as an ATM, making easy withdrawals on the backs of the world’s poorest at every opportunity.
“What the UK has shown overnight is that there is a better way: fair funding for development assistance should be protected. Aid promises should be kept. It is time that all parties in Australian politics commit to a fair and stable Australian aid budget.”
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