Perspectives from politicians
Conference participants heard from representatives of major Australian political parties. The conference kicked off with an address from the newly appointed Minister for International Development and the Pacific, the Hon Steve Ciobo, on the Government’s strong focus on innovation within the Australian aid program and the need to harness new forms of finance and new actors in aid and development. Mr Ciobo acknowledged Australian NGOs as vital development partners and outlined his keenness to engage with the sector and the important role of the Sustainable Development Goals in focusing development efforts going forward.
Participants also heard from Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development, Tanya Plibersek, with a commitment to introduce legislation on the objectives and reporting requirements for Australia’s aid program, grant an extra $30 million to the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), and $10 million to support research and partnerships to increase aid effectiveness from 2017/18. Ms Plibersek also committed to reinstating the ‘blue book’ on the aid budget. She also spoke of the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals to focus development efforts, recognise the complexity of development challenges, improve accountability, and measure progress.
Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Richard Di Natale, also addressed the conference with a commitment to increase Australia’s aid budget to 0.7% of Gross National Income by 2025, particularly in response to the Sustainable Development Goals and in recognition that aid is a vital investment Australia can make as a nation. Senator Di Natale also committed to doubling Australia’s humanitarian crisis fund and scaling up funding to support developing countries to tackle climate change.