12 May, 2015 - Federal Budget harms the world’s poorest

Plan International Australia CEO Ian Wishart is available for interviews, grabs, etc. Please call Holly Crocket on 0413 343 329 to arrange.

The Federal budget will result in thousands of children missing out on education and health programs as the Australian Government slashes billions in funding to the world’s poorest people, says child rights agency Plan International Australia.

“Tonight’s budget confirms our worst fears. It will hurt people who can least afford it - children in some of the poorest developing nations,” says Plan CEO Ian Wishart.

“Australians are a generous people - witness the response to the Nepal earthquake - yet our government decision is destroying our international reputation for fairness.”

“Plan is particularly concerned at the large 40% cut to assistance to Indonesia. Also troubling is the 40% cut to Laos and Burma - two very needy countries in our region. Large sections of all of these communities remain desperately poor. It is in Australia’s interest that those people are given a better chance in life.”

“Most devastating is the 70% cut to Sub-Saharan Africa. The slashing of assistance to Africa is a particularly regressive step. The government should be directing aid to the poorest communities, which includes East Africa.”

“The Australian aid budget has taken the largest hit of any sector with cuts of $1 billion this year, rising to a staggering $11.3 billion in total over the next few years.”

“The cuts to the aid budget are completely disproportionate to any of the other savings found in this year’s budget.”

“This will take our assistance to the world’s poorest to 0.25% GNI this financial year; falling to 0.22% of GNI in 2016-17, which is the lowest level since records began.”

“There is no doubt that the latest round of aid cuts are brutal and unfair, and will have an enormously damaging impact on the lives of many millions throughout the developing world. But our analysis reveals that it is girls who will be paying the highest price,” says Ian Wishart, CEO of Plan International Australia.

“Fortunately the work of NGOs has been somewhat spared with just a 5% cut. But the impact to existing NGO sector programs like water and sanitation are yet to be calculated.”

“One area that seems to have been spared is humanitarian aid. This is pleasing as it will enable the Australian Government to respond to disasters when they occur such as the ongoing crisis in Nepal.”

“It is clear that Plan will need to make cuts to its existing projects in order to accommodate these significant budget cuts.”

Plan has been forced to cut several education and sanitation programs designed to help children lead healthy, productive lives due to the cuts.

“Several contracts we hold with the government are unlikely to be honoured in full, forcing us to cut programs years before they were supposed to end,” says Mr Wishart.

“It’s been heartbreaking having to tell our staff in Ethiopia and Uganda that we can no longer fund their vital work.”

Case studies on programs affected by the budget cuts are available on request.

Editors’ notes:

  • Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 75 years ago, working in 51 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.

Media contact: Holly Crocket, Plan International Australia, Acting Media Relations Manager, 0413 343 329.