Stingy and short-sighted: declining aid budget to negatively impact girls around the world

After Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivered the Australian Government’s budget, Plan International Australia CEO, Susanne Legena, said:

“Tonight, the Government has once again put being a good global citizen – and alleviating extreme poverty, inequality and injustice - at the bottom of its priority list, with aid declining for the sixth consecutive budget.

“What’s more, repeated commitments to increase humanitarian response funding to $500 million have fallen well short, which is shameful in a time when the need is so great, and growing.

“This approach is not only immoral, but lacks strategy and vision. The Government has used a budget deficit as an excuse for previous cuts. Now that we are nearing a surplus, what’s the excuse? They would have the Australian people believe that contributing to making the world a better, safer and more equal place is something we can’t afford. The truth is, we can’t afford not to support our neighbours and the world beyond to promote peace, stability and security.

“As one of the world’s wealthiest countries, enjoying almost 30 years of constant economic growth, it reflects poorly on us all when we can only find a stingy 21 cents in every $100 to help those who are less fortunate. As we’ve seen in recent times when natural disasters have struck, Australians are far more generous than that; and our humanitarian and development cooperation budget should reflect that.

“But what do these cuts really mean, beyond the numbers, for the girls and young women we work with? They mean fewer girls will get a chance to go to school, fewer young women will learn entrepreneurial skills to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, and fewer will be protected from violence during disasters.

“This year we’ve also seen a disappointing lack of transparency in the budget, with the Government disguising loan finance and infrastructure funds as aid. They’re taking $500 million from our shrinking budget for a loan scheme that doesn’t yet exist. If the Government was serious about stepping up in the Pacific, it would invest in infrastructure in addition to its aid budget – rather than siphoning money from it.

“We can, and we must do better, by the world’s most vulnerable children.”

About Plan International

Plan International is a leading girls’ rights agency. We champion girls’ rights because we know that there is nowhere in the world where girls are treated as equals. We work alongside children, young people, supporters and partners to tackle the root causes of injustices facing girls and the most marginalised children.

Plan International works in more than 75 countries to help create a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Our local office, Plan International Australia funds programs to support children in more than 25 countries, as well as sponsorship programs across the federation.