May 10, 2017: Australian aid cut for fourth consecutive year, suffering $303m loss

Plan International Australia is disappointed the Coalition Government has once again cut funding from Australia’s foreign aid, with $303 million to disappear from the budget over the next four years.  

Responding to the May 9 2017 Federal Budget, Plan International Australia CEO Ian Wishart says the cuts to aid as short-sighted and disappointing.

“Our Treasurer says this Budget is about ‘fairness’. This is the fourth consecutive year the foreign aid budget has cut and now it appears it will be used as an ATM to withdraw funds for other areas. This is far from fair," Mr Wishart said. 

“The Government will only keep the foreign aid budget above inflation for two years, but after that, it will freeze for the next two. That means a loss of $303 million.

“Australia has – until recent years – enjoyed a global reputation as a kind and giving nation and most Australians support foreign aid because it’s the compassionate thing to do.  We are very disappointed that the Coalition Government does not view foreign aid as a worthwhile investment.

“The global need for aid has not reduced and will continue to rise, as the Trump Administration has put its foreign aid budget on the chopping block. We need an increase now more than ever before.”

Mr Wishart said although the indexation freeze is bad news, it was good to see commitments to important areas of gender equality and bolstered support for ongoing humanitarian crises.

“Essentially the Government is strengthening its humanitarian support, from $38.4 million to $78.4 million, which we hope will be directed towards the current famine and food crises in Eastern Africa, where 25 million people are in need of food.

“It’s also good to see the Gender Equality Fund for 2017 and 2018 which will focus on women’s leadership in the Pacific and South-East Asia, reducing child marriage in Indonesia and supporting female victims of acid attacks in Bangladesh.

“We know that no community will ever thrive until its girls and women are supported and free from violence, oppression and poverty, so this is encouraging.”

Earlier this year, OECD figures revealed Australia's total contribution to foreign aid fell to just over $3.8 billion in 2016, or just 23 cents in every $100 of national profit, at its lowest ever level.

In 2014, the Federal Government announced $11 billion in cuts to its foreign aid program and cut a further 20 per cent the following year. The 3 May 2016 budget saw $224 million slashed from aid.

Under a Coalition Government, Plan International Australia has been forced to discontinue or outright cancel nine projects operating in Bangladesh, Zambia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Cambodia, Uganda, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Vietnam and Indonesia. 

Plan Australia media contact: Jane Gardner - 0438 130 905 - jane.gardner@plan.org.au