The Australian Democrats have called on the Howard government to increase foreign aid funding in next week’s Budget.
The party’s leader, Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja, said it was of concern that “while the Government had deep pockets for defence in the upcoming Budget, it was a different story concerning overseas aid”.
Text of a media statement by the leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja.
The Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, today called for the Federal Government to increase its commitment to overseas aid in next week’s Budget.
Senator Stott Despoja said it was of concern that while the Government had deep pockets for defence in the upcoming Budget, it was a different story concerning overseas aid.
“One of the factors that we must address in confronting terrorism is the poverty that fosters fundamentalism and hatred,” said Senator Stott Despoja.
“Australia is currently at the bottom end of the scale of OECD aid donors. At .26% of GNP we are a long way short of the .7% of GNP the United Nations recommends. A number of European countries have reached, or are committed to reaching, this target. There is no reason why Australia cannot, especially as one of the fastest growing economies in the OECD.
“Increases in aid allocations since September 11, 2001 have been insignificant in comparison to defence spending. Australia’s additional contributions to the aid effort in Afghanistan have only amounted to around $40 million.
“The Government also found $140 million this current financial year to export Australia’s refugee responsibilities through the ‘Pacific Solution’. This is triple what it would have cost to process the asylum seekers in Australia, and the full cost of the ‘Pacific Solution’ is yet to be clarified.
“The Government had no difficulty finding another $26 million in aid sweeteners for Nauru in the context of an election campaign.
“While the Government boasts of globalisation’s benefits, it also brings responsibilities and one of the greatest responsibilities is aid to developing nations.
“Investing in overseas aid is not only compassionate, it is smart policy for the true defence of Australia,” concluded Senator Stott Despoja.