ACFID has warmly welcomed Labor’s plan to substantially boost aid spending in the Pacific, calling it the right thing to do.
Under the plan, Labor will spend an additional $525 million over four years in the Pacific and Timor Leste across health, education, climate change and economic growth.
Said ACFID CEO Marc Purcell:
“This is the right thing to do as it responds directly to where the need is greatest and the dire situation faced by Pacific countries in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Human development in the Pacific has reversed under Covid: health systems are collapsing, economies have shrunk and children have stopped going to school. Labor’s package will help tackle these realities and we welcome its focus areas.”
In declaring the package, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Penny Wong, said the funding will be used to address the decade of development gains that has been lost to Covid.
However, ACFID is stressing whoever wins government, the temporary nature of Australia’s aid program means it is not fit for purpose. Currently it includes $460 million in temporary measures for 2020-23, much of which will run out across the forward estimates.
ACFID is calling for current temporary aid measures to become fixed funding levels to the Pacific.
“We call on the Coalition and on Labor to make these temporary and targeted amounts permanent,” said Purcell.
“Our relationships with Pacific Island neighbours are enduring. Temporary aid measures have no place in the current worrying geostrategic environment. We are in it for the long haul.”
ACFID also strongly believes the overall aid budget must be lifted. March’s Federal Budget saw ODA (Overseas Development Assistance) revised slightly upwards to $4.549 billion, making it 0.22 per cent of GNI, according to figures released by the OECD this month.
“Whoever wins government must continue to respond to the deteriorating economic and social conditions in our region by increasing development assistance, with the aim of legislating for 0.5 per cent of GNI.”
The international target is 0.7 per cent of GNI. On the OECD list of 29 countries, Australia ranked at number 21.
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact [email protected] or call 0401 721 064.