The prospect of further cuts in Australia’s foreign aid budget are deeply worrying as they risk forcing the Budget burden on to those who can least afford to bear it – the world’s poor, according to child rights organisation and NGO Plan International Australia.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop this morning reminded aid professionals gathered to mark World Aids Day today that many of the measures the Federal Government has announced to cut Budget spending are yet to be passed by the Senate. Reports suggest the government may again turn to foreign aid to fund Budget cuts.
Already this year, $7.6 billion has been cut from Australia’s foreign aid budget.
“There simply must be no further cuts from the foreign aid budget, because the world’s most vulnerable people are already paying an unspeakably high price for the last round of cuts – which were the single biggest source of Budget savings,” says Ian Wishart, CEO of Plan International Australia.
“Already our foreign aid budget has been capped at just $5 billion, which is less than 0.3 per cent of our Gross National Income. That compares to a long-held agreement that 0.7 per cent of GNI to foreign aid is required to help the poor out of poverty,” Wishart says.
“The truth is that we are already one of the least generous developed nations in the world when it comes to foreign aid, and a further cut will obviously make that worse. It will be an unforgiveable slap on the face for the world’s poor – particularly the most vulnerable, which is of course the children,” he adds.
“A further cut will not only be unfair, it will be deeply shameful for Australia.”
“It’s worth remembering that foreign aid is not mere charity, it is an investment. Aid promotes stability and security in our region and across the world, which in turn makes Australians safer at home and overseas.
“Our economy is also inextricably tied to the prosperity of the rest of the world, and aid helps to create and support emerging markets – in turn promoting trade opportunities and helping to support Australian jobs.”
“We at Plan are urging the government to consider the welfare of the world’s poorest and take any potential aid cuts off the table,” Wishart says.
Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 75 years ago, working in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious or political affiliations.
Media contact: Adam Cathro, Plan International in Australia, Media Relations Manager, 0488 202 945