Labor Plan Strengthens International Development Spend in face of Growing Global Volatility

10 May, 2019

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) – Australia’s peak-body for international development NGOs – has responded to the Labor party’s policy costings on international development spending.

Commenting, ACFID CEO, Marc Purcell said:

“Labor has set a positive trajectory for international development which will leave Australia better-placed to address the root causes of crises and challenges that undermine global peace and stability.

“After relentless cuts, this lift would get Australia’s international development spending out of the doldrums and back on a surer footing. Coupled with the vision for the program outlined by the Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister, Labor would be recasting and strengthening the international development program to play a more central role in Australian foreign policy.”

Labor Election Policy 2019 on ODA Spending*

Year

ODA spending ($billions)

ODA/GNI Ratio

2019-20

4.163

0.21%

2020-21

4.339

0.22%

2021-22

4.544

0.22%

2022-23

4.755

0.22%

*Table includes Labor costings on line items: Increase to ODA; Increase funding for NGOs in the Australian NGO Cooperation Program; Increased funding for the UNHCR; Pacific Avoidable Blindness and Vision Loss Fund; UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees; and Independent oversight for Australian-funded facilities.

The plans would equate to Labor spending approximately $1.6 billion more over four years than the current trajectory set out by the Government.

Australia would reach 22 cents of international development spending for $100 of Australian national income by 2022-23, rather than 19 cents under current Government plans.

“Long-lasting political unity on increasing spending is required to ensure a predictable and principled development cooperation program. Modern bipartisanship on foreign policy has been faltering, but it is essential for international development where funding predictability and longevity is crucial for effectiveness.

“The Coalition must lift their vision from the deteriorating budget they have set out. We are already at the lowest levels in Australia’s history and if we are to develop stronger international relationships we must reinvest.”

ACFID has highlighted that the trajectory Labor has outlined means the party would not meet its target of spending 0.5% of Gross National Income (GNI) on international development in any reasonable timeframe.

Purcell said: “The increases would simply be too slow to reach the 0.5% funding target. Australia needs an accelerated timetable if it’s to reach 0.5%, and the internationally agreed goal of 0.7% by 2030.”

Purcell continued:

“Building mutually beneficial partnerships with other nations through development cooperation is crucial in tackling common global challenges like climate change and underpins the security, jobs and exports which Australia relies upon.

“The report from the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs – backed by Labor and Coalition politicians – has set a vision for a new strategic, predictable development cooperation program.

“We echo their key recommendation that Australia should reach spending of 0.5% of Gross National Income within five years and 0.7% by 2030, combined with legislative floors.

“We will press all parties to achieve this vision in the next Parliament.”

ENDS

Authorised by Marc Purcell, Deakin, Australia. 

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