The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), the peak body for aid and humanitarian agencies, condemns the deep cuts to Australia’s aid budget announced by the Treasurer today as damaging to the poor and a lazy way to find budget savings.
“The Government has taken a wrecking ball to Australia’s aid program. In just over 12 months, the Treasurer has cut more than $11 billion from the aid budget. This means that next year’s aid budget will be slashed by more than 20 percent,” said Mr Marc Purcell, ACFID’s Executive Director.
“We see a trail of broken promises since the Government was elected. The Foreign Minister promised that the Government would be ‘reliable, consistent and far more strategic’ with Australia’s aid program. Well, the only consistency we have seen is cuts to the aid program every six months.”
“Last year, the Treasurer reaffirmed the Coalition’s commitment to increasing foreign aid to 0.5 per cent of national income over time. Today’s cuts mean that Australian aid will fall from 0.32 percent to 0.21 percent of our national income. This is the lowest ever level since records began in 1954 – when Queen Elizabeth II first visited Australia,” said Mr Purcell.
“As Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott said that no person of conscience would fail to subscribe to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Yet, these cuts make reaching the MDGs practically impossible for countries in our region. By the Prime Minister’s own sentiment, these are unconscionable cuts.”
“The Australian aid program plays a critical role in building prosperity and stability in our region and beyond. Today’s cuts will hurt millions of poor people in the short term and pose an enormous risk to Australia’s own economic and strategic interests in the long-term. This is a damaging and short-sighted way to find budget savings,” he concluded.