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ChildFund welcomes Greens announcement that Australian Aid must be restored to meet our international obligations to the world’s poorest

Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Richard Di Natale, announced the party’s new Peace and Demilitarisation Policy today during a speech at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University.

With a focus on “peace and global prosperity, not more weapons and war” the Greens plan to rebuild the Australian Aid program, reduce government spending on weapons manufacturing, and increase climate finance by up to $1.6bn a year.

The new policy includes a commitment to restoring aid volumes in line with internationally agreed targets.

CEO of ChildFund Australia Nigel Spence said: “We very much welcome the Senator’s announcement to increase Australia’s overseas development assistance to 0.7% by 2030.

“Five years of consecutive cuts means that Australia is spending less on overseas development assistance than at any point in its history.

“As a member of the OECD, Australia is ranked as having the 9th largest economy. Yet when it comes to our commitment to reducing poverty, we fall to 19th place.”

Strengthening the governance of Australia’s international development program is also welcomed by ChildFund, with the Senator outlining plans to establish an independent aid agency and appoint a minister for International Development and the Pacific.

Mr Spence said: “The reinstatement of a Minister to represent the Australian Aid program and the Pacific would be a significant step to elevate the importance of overseas development within government and give dedicated attention to this important portfolio.”

ChildFund acknowledges the positive intent of the Greens policy to upskill Australia’s defence personnel so that they are better equipped for future humanitarian and peacekeeping missions “given that climate change looms as a threat multiplier and an ongoing trigger for instability and humanitarian crises”. But ChildFund also urges caution in order to avoid the risk of the militarisation of aid.

Mr Spence added: “As we now enter a period of intense election campaigning, ChildFund urges all sides of politics to work together to ensure we build bipartisan support of what is one of Australia’s greatest assets.

“Poverty reduction, increased prosperity, stronger democracies and greater peace and stability – this is the impact that Australian Aid can have, for Australians at home as well as vulnerable children and families living in poverty.”

ChildFund Australia has warmly welcomed Senator Penny Wong’s announcement that a Labor Shorten government would seek to rebuild the Australian Aid program.

This includes a commitment to increasing aid volumes over the long-term, and focusing on delivering aid programs in the areas of health, education, gender equality, climate change, infrastructure and inclusion.

ChildFund, is encouraged by the recognition given by Labor to the important role that overseas development assistance plays as a central pillar of Australia’s Foreign Policy.

In the light of Senator Wong’s announcement ChildFund CEO Nigel Spence has again urged all sides of politics to find common ground on Australian Aid.

Mr Spence said: “There are enormous challenges for people in poor communities around our region, often exacerbated by conflict and civil unrest, economic volatility, rising inequality, record-breaking numbers of displaced people, and increasing severity and frequency of natural disasters due to climate change. They need Australia’s help.

“Unfortunately, this global uncertainty is also resulting in greater nationalism and populist views.

“The Australian Aid program should reflect our national values of fairness, generosity, and compassion towards our neighbours. We want to see a renewed spirit of bipartisanship on aid among our political leaders.”

As it stands, the next Federal Budget  will see overseas development assistance – which is already at the lowest level in Australia’s history – decline further to just 19c in every $100 of gross national income by 2021.

Mr Spence added: “Australian aid plays a vital role in giving vulnerable children in our region the opportunity to attend school, access healthcare, eat nutritious food, learn vocational skills, participate meaningfully in their communities and, importantly, give them hope for the future.

“For so many children, this has meant giving them back their childhood. The impact of Australian Aid in our region is something we can all be immensely proud of, and something that deserves the support of all of our political leaders.”