Aid to Pacific: We should reach into our own pockets before our friends’

16 Apr, 2018

Commenting on reports that the Australian Government is urging greater support for Pacific nations from the UK and other Commonwealth nations through a shift in international aid spending, CEO of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), Marc Purcell, said:

“ACFID welcomes efforts by the Government to seek new development partnerships to leverage greater investment and support for our region. Yet, it is extraordinary that Australia is seeking to lean on the UK’s commitment to aid and international development after over 30% of cuts to our own budget. 

“Australia seems happy to reach into friends’ pockets, but not our own. We have a lot to offer our region – our people, our expertise and our position as a prosperous country. We can be generous at home and overseas.

“The UK has enshrined its aid spend in law at 0.7% of the country’s income. Australia’s generosity is at less than a third of that level at 0.22% with the Government planning further cuts.

“To be a cooperative and principled international partner, we need to lift our aid budget. We call on the Government and the Opposition to announce a timetable for rebuilding aid.”

Commenting on the Australian Government's pivot to the UK and Commonwealth nations following debate over Chinese military and infrastructure projects in the Pacific, Marc Purcell added:

“The Minister was right to call out the risks of China’s concessional loans as aid, but we should be careful not to start a Pacific infrastructure arms-race with China. Australia has an opportunity to positively build influence in the region through development cooperation that works in the interests of our Pacific partners. We can do this through building people-to-people links; lifting socio-economic development; and reducing the risk of climate change.”

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