Australian aid sector calls for timetable to boost funds

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Australia's peak aid body wants the major parties to commit to a new white paper on the aid program and a timetable to increase the depleted aid budget.


Tanya Plibersek and Julie Bishop debating foreign policy at the National Press Club


The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) sent 10 questions on aid policy to four parties – the Coalition, Labor, the Greens and Family First – and all responded in support of "an effective and expanded Australian aid program," it said.


Last month, the Labor Party pledged to restore the $224 million cut from the annual aid budget, while the Coalition has committed only to increase the aid budget at the rate of inflation.


While both parties are committed in principle to the UN goal of spending 0.5 per cent of gross national income (GNI) on aid, successive budget cuts mean aid spending will be just 0.22 per cent of GNI in 2016-17.


Mr Purcell told Pacific Beat the next government needed to commission a new white paper in light of funding cuts and a changed international environment.


"Domestically there's been immense change and turmoil in Australia's aid program over the last five years after the scale-up and then very significant cuts and the abolition of the main agency, Ausaid," he said.


"But also if you look outside of Australia, there are some very, very strong trends. There's the rise of middle income countries. There's an increased rate of natural disasters, weather-related disasters due to climate change.


"We feel given these big trends, it's important to actually take stock of where Australia makes its investment and how it makes its investments."


The last white paper on overseas aid was released by the Howard government in 2006.


Mr Purcell said while foreign aid policy was not going to "sway millions of Australians" this election, it remained an important issue for many voters.


"For certain constituencies, particularly in the churches who have had historically a very strong commitment to an increased Australian aid program and through their church affiliations have strong links into the Pacific, yes, clearly that would be a factor [in their vote]," he said.


I think the challenge is that we've gone through a period in Australia where we've been very inward looking.


"Now through our aid policy, it's a major lever or tool that we can engage with the world, and Australians need to think about the future of our country in the world and how it assists that."


-来自 ABC NEWS


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