Sydney, Australia, 3 May 2016: ChildFund Australia is deeply disappointed that Australia’s life-saving aid program will fall to its lowest funding levels ever, after Treasurer Scott Morrison failed to reverse a scheduled cut of $224m in handing down his first budget tonight.
Nigel Spence, CEO of ChildFund Australia, said: “It is extremely disappointing that the Treasurer has failed to act upon statements he made in his maiden speech to Parliament about strengthening Australia’s response to the world’s poor. In fact, today’s announcement sees him making even deeper cuts to an already decimated aid budget.
“For the first time in our history, Australia will dedicate just 0.23 per cent of its gross national income to programs which deliver real and tangible improvements to children and families living in some of the world’s poorest communities.
“We are now in a position where we are spending more on one submarine for our defence program than on our entire aid program. Given the vital role of aid in building peace and prosperity in our region, this is seriously unbalanced.”
This latest decision follows a series of devastating cuts to the Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) budget under the Abbott government, which has seen $11.3bn wiped from the aid program over five years. Last year, a 20 per cent reduction of $1bn was the biggest cut ever made to the Australian aid budget in a single year.
For organisations like ChildFund, this has meant scaling back or not going ahead with vital aid projects for children and families in countries throughout the Asia-Pacific and Africa.
Mr Spence said: “We have to realise these cuts have a significant human cost for some of the most vulnerable children and families in our region and beyond. We’ve had to cut education projects, child protection projects and an innovative global education program that was building bridges between children in Australia and developing countries throughout Asia.”
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has committed Australia’s support to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, which include new targets to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and fix climate change. As such, it is now essential that bi-partisan agreement be reached on the future direction of our aid program.
“We have not had certainty or predictability in government funding for a number of years now, which is critical for delivering effective aid programs,” said Mr Spence. “If we are serious about addressing the challenges facing our region – poverty, rising inequality, extreme weather events, increased mobility and displacement – we need a solid plan for the Australian aid program that recognises the value of investing in our global neighbourhood.”
With a federal election looming, ChildFund Australia is calling on both sides of politics to restore and repair the aid budget, and recommit to our promise to help the world’s poor.
Mr Spence added: “This election is an opportunity for all parties to present their overseas development policies, particularly for the two major parties to show a positive and progressive commitment to aid. Other countries worse off than Australia are increasing their aid budget at a time when we are slashing ours to an historic low. It is time to turn this around so we can regain momentum on important aid projects that ultimately bring greater peace and prosperity for all of us.”