Media Centre - 15 May 2024

Plan International Australia responds to the 2024 Federal Budget

The Australian Government must do more to stop the escalating suffering around the world.

In response to tonight’s federal budget, handed down by Treasurer Jim Chalmers, Plan International Australia CEO Susanne Legena said: 

“Plan International Australia welcomes the Australian Government’s contribution to the foreign aid budget, particularly in Australia’s current economic environment. It is encouraging to see the boost to the Pacific Resilience Facility and we acknowledge the importance of new funding for other climate initiatives in the Pacific and for the Green Climate Fund (GCF). However, with aid and development funding at an all-time low, and need at an all-time high, this development budget is, sadly, a missed opportunity, and failing the Government’s regional leadership ambitions, commitments and accountability.

The aid budget this year has increased by $193 million to $4.961 billion but in reality, it remains static, with our Official Development Assistance remaining at a record low of 19 cents in every $100 in income – even though the Labor Party’s goal is 50 cents per $100 of income. The aid budget is just 0.68% of the federal budget, a stark historic low. 

Yet we are living in a world where humanitarian need has never been greater. The statistics are gut-wrenching. If you were to count all of the children right now who are living in a conflict or war, they would be equivalent to the third most populous country in the world – an unacceptable outrage. We are living in a world that is staring down the barrel of the climate crisis. We are living through the worst levels of hunger that the world has ever seen. Poverty is increasing, and inequality only widening.  

Australia must step up as a global leader. Australia’s aid budget announced tonight does not reflect the need driven by these compounding and overlapping crises. We are disappointed to see Australia slip further down the list of OECD donor countries in aid generosity, falling from 15th place to 26th place out of the 31 countries. As the 13th wealthiest country in the world, the Government must lift us out of this position. We are in dire risk of the gains we have made on poverty alleviation and equality being wound further and further back.  

Investing in international aid is also crucial to the peace and stability of our region. While aid spend has remained stagnant, we have seen the defence budget soar to $53 billion this year, with more increases projected over the next decade. Security cannot be achieved through defence alone. Investing in aid and development, and tackling global poverty, injustice and hunger, is an important way to ensure peace and prosperity in the first place.  

We know that Australians are a generous and compassionate people. They are watching unprecedented human suffering in real time on their screens every day, and they are calling on our Government to do more. Our national poll earlier this year showed that the majority of Australians are calling for more Government action on the nightmare unfolding in Gaza.

So we are disappointed that the Government has not increased its Humanitarian Emergency Fund (HEF), which is designed to respond to emergencies and crises such as Gaza, Sudan and Ukraine. Together with others in the aid sector, we have continuously called for this to be doubled from $150 million to $300 million annually.

We welcome the announcement of a new five-year $20 million South-East Asia Gender-based Violence Prevention platform; however, we acknowledge that this funding is not new and additional. 

We also welcome the Government’s announcement of $100 million for the Pacific Resilience Fund and $50 million for the Green Climate Fund, already announced at COP28 last year. It is encouraging to see greater investment to our neighbours in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. However, a significant financial investment in  the global Loss and Damage Fund is critical. This includes explicitly allocating resources for girls to realise their right to an education during the climate crisis.

Media contacts

Claire Knox

Media & PR Manager
0452 326 549

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