ACFID welcomes Labor’s Pacific focus

29 Oct, 2018

Responding to excerpts from a speech by Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, at the Lowy Institute on Monday afternoon, CEO of the Australian Council for International Development, Marc Purcell said: 
 
“The Labor party’s intention to engage with our Pacific partners in their interest, aimed at sustainable development and poverty reduction, rather than driven by strategic competition is the right approach. 
 
“Signalling increased prioritisation of the Pacific by elevating the Pacific and international development portfolios back to the ministry and through a whole-of-government approach is also very welcome.
 
“A focus on increased infrastructure spending - in line with the goals of our Pacific neighbours - is a positive initiative and reflects the need to broaden our horizons in terms of what development cooperation we can offer our neighbours. But this should not come at the cost of existing grants-based programs. 
 
“A well-targeted, effective aid program which matches peer nations’ development aspirations and is based on genuine partnership should drive our investment.
 
“Australia shouldn’t be part of a lending race in the region. Given the concern that many Pacific countries are some of the least developed in the region, Australia shouldn’t be forcing them to choose between debt repayments and their own investment in health and education. We will wait for further details on how Australian financing and a concessional loan scheme would operate. 
 
“With the strong financial position Australia is in, we are calling for a commitment to increasing the aid program. MYEFO would be the first opportunity for the Government to make such a commitment.”
 
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