The latest ranking of wealthy countries on their contributions to overseas aid puts Australia to shame, with the country dropping a place and set to fall further, Oxfam says.
Australia is one of 28 wealthy nations the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ranks annually on their spending on development assistance. In the latest league table, released last night, Australia dropped from 13th to 14th, trailing behind progressive nations such as the United Kingdom and Denmark, which are fulfilling global promises made on aid spending.
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said the ranking was deeply disappointing given that Australia had one of the highest incomes per capita globally – ranking second in the world in last year’s Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report.
“There’s a massive disparity between our wealth and ability to contribute aid to poorer countries, and where we sit on this OECD league table,” Dr Szoke said.
“What is even more damning, however, is where Australia’s contribution is headed.
“2015 was supposed to be the year that Australia reached the bipartisan commitment to giving just 50 cents in every $100 of our national economy towards helping our poorer neighbours.
“Instead, the government has walked away from the commitment it made to the many taxpayers who have advocated passionately for Australia to play a leading role in helping the world’s poorest people.
“If implemented, the cuts announced by the government will take Australian aid to the lowest level in our nation’s history.”
Dr Szoke said that in contrast, last month the UK passed a bill that enshrined in law its commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of its national income on aid every year.
“The impacts of Australia’s aid cuts will be widespread, with programs in very poor nations like Timor Leste at risk,” Dr Szoke said
“Despite there being enough food to feed the world’s population, one in nine people will go to bed hungry tonight – most of these on our doorstep in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Eighteen of Australia’s 20 closest neighbours are developing countries, including some of the least developed countries in the world, and many are small island states bearing the brunt of climate change through altered weather patterns and rising sea levels.
“Aid plays a critical role in our efforts to build a peaceful and prosperous region. It can provide access to food, water, health and education, help respond in times of disaster and act as a catalyst for broader development efforts,” Dr Szoke said.
“Far from being a leader in the region of Asia and the Pacific, Australia is leaning on the efforts of other nations. We urge the Australian Government to lift its efforts and reverse these cruel cuts.”
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