Australia’s peak-body for aid and development NGOs -the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) -has said the upcoming Federal Budget presents a vital opportunity to keep Australia’s regional relationships on track and tackle rising instability.
The Budget takes places as 80 million people across the Asia-Pacific have been thrown into extreme poverty and Pacific countries are only now feeling the full impact of the pandemic.
Much of the targeted funding announced by the Australian Government in 2020 to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 will come to an end in 2022 and 2023.
At Senate Estimates, the Government set out forecasts that the overall aid budget will decline in 2022-23 as the targeted funding tails off.
Marc Purcell, CEO of ACFID said:
“In an era of shrinking economies, and health systems beset by the pandemic in Asia and the Pacific, the Australian Government did the right thing by providing funding and expertise when it was needed.
“But funding shouldn’t tail off when COVID-19 is having a grave impact in countries like the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Tonga, and we are seeing rising regional instability.“
In an environment where the Indo-Pacific region is becoming contested strategically, economies are shrinking and the pandemic is still raging, our aid commitment needs to be both bolstered and enduring,” said Purcell.
“An aid program capped at where Prime Minister Howard left it in 2007-15 years ago -is not fit for purpose and will not support our national interests going forward.
“Our partners deeply appreciate our assistance and co-operation. This is an opportunity to show our neighbours just how strongly we value them and their people.”
ACFID has called for the Australian Government to:
- Extend the Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative to 2025-26.
- Contribute our fair share to the global pandemic response effort with an additional $350m to purchase vaccines and support pandemic preparedness in low and middle-income countries.
- Share at least 20 million COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility to support equitable global vaccine access.
- Increase funding to $100m a year to help stabilisethe escalating humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
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