ACFID welcomes Greens' 2030 aid target and proposal to scrap arms-trade plan

29 Mar, 2019

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) has welcomed the Australian Greens’ policy initiative to raise Australian development cooperation spending to 0.7% of Gross National Income by 2030 and increase climate financing to $1.6bn per year.

In a speech at the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University, Greens’ leader, Senator Richard Di Natale, also set out the Greens’ proposal to immediately abolish the Defence Export Facility, reversing the plan to make Australia a global arms dealer.

ACFID CEO, Marc Purcell, said:

“A 0.7% commitment to development cooperation would mean Australia can show global leadership, build international cooperation and play its role in combatting common global challenges, like climate change. A program that is pro-poor and puts climate resilience and gender equality at its heart would help us work towards fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 – goals Australia is already signed-up to.

“Countries like the UK have locked-in a 0.7% target in legislation, recognising that development cooperation can address the root causes of problems that undermine peace and stability. Australia should echo this recognition and take the politics out of aid with a cross-party commitment to 0.7%. The Greens now have a costed proposal for how to get there by 2030.” 

The Australian Government’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper stated that ‘no long-term foreign policy objective is more important to Australia than ensuring our region evolves peacefully’. The Australian Greens’ proposal to roll back the $3.8bn injection of loans for the Australian arms trade is welcome and would remove the incoherence in Australian foreign policy.

Purcell continued:

“The current contradiction is stark. Australia risks fuelling the war in Yemen with weapons exports while assisting people trapped in the same war zone.

“Rather than fuelling a global arms trade that increases the prospect of armed conflict, Australia should be using its position and prosperity to deescalate tension. A strong and effective development cooperation program is vital in achieving this.”

Senator Di Natale said the proposals for infrastructure as part of the Pacific ‘step-up’ – enabled through legislative changes to Efic (Australia’s export agency), scheduled for debate in the Senate next week – were a “slap in the face to Pacific neighbours” as there was no reference to Pacific interests within the legislation.

“ACFID and its members remain concerned by the risks and unintended consequences of the Efic Bill. It puts aside the interests of Australia’s neighbours in favour of boomerang aid for Australian businesses.

“We need proper parliamentary scrutiny and a longer period of consultation and design of the initiatives and projects that Efic intends to facilitate and fund. We encourage all parties to step back from the brink on this legislation.”

ACFID welcomed the Australian Greens’ policy initiatives outlined in Senator Di Natale’s speech, including:

  • The reinstatement of a Minister for International Development and the Pacific;
  • Consultation with the sector on and creation of an independent, dedicated government agency for development cooperation;
  • A focus on strengthening Australian and local civil society as part of the development cooperation program;
  • A commitment to Australian fair share contributions to global humanitarian crises and local leadership; and
  • A commitment to climate finance of $1.6bn per year.

ENDS

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Authorised by Marc Purcell, Deakin.