MEDIA RELEASE: Government Breaks Promise to the Poorest
9/05/2012 4:17:07 PM
The Make Poverty History Coalition is disappointed the Government has not delivered on its election promise in this year’s Budget to allocate 50 cents in every $100 of national income to overseas aid by 2015.
Despite a firm commitment in both 2007 and 2010 to increase aid spending, the Budget handed down last night did not meet the promised increase. While the increase in aid spending of $300 million in the 12/13 Budget is welcomed, the Government has deferred its commitment to 50 cents in every $100 until 2016/2017.
Make Poverty History co-chairs – World Vision CEO Tim Costello and Oxfam Executive Director Andrew Hewett – said today that while they were pleased to see an increase in the aid budget, they were disappointed that the aid target had been delayed.
“The reality is if the government had kept its promise to boost aid to 0.5 of GNI by 2015 there would have been over $300 million more in aid in this budget alone,” Mr Costello said.
“There will be $2.9 billion less for aid by 2015/16 as a result of this delay. It is disappointing because the commitment on aid was strongly supported in the Australian community.”
With just 3 years until the 2015 deadline for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals – which aim to halve global poverty – Mr Hewett said the impact of delaying the target is significant.
“Every dollar denied now has real impacts for people living in poverty, for achieving the Millennium Development Goals and for keeping our promise to the world’s poor,” Mr Hewett said.
Australia currently sits 13th out of 23 OECD countries in terms of the generosity of its aid giving. Despite the difficult economic times and hard choices the Government has been forced to make, Australia remains one of the wealthiest countries in the world. We have the sixth highest income per person in the world and our level of government debt is by far the lowest of any major developed country.
“It is important that Australia get back on track with the aid budget. Delaying an increase in aid means we are now falling even further behind the other rich nations of the world, and it will mean even larger increases will be required in future budgets,” Mr Hewett said.
Mr Costello and Mr Hewett acknowledged that there were welcome initiatives in the Budget. For example, there were substantial increases in funding for humanitarian emergencies, and boosted funding for UN agencies (including the World Food Program and UN Women) and aid and development agencies.
The Make Poverty History Coalition urges the Government to get back on track as soon as possible. Millions of people around the world are depending on it.