Greens overseas aid and development spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said the Coalition’s plan to absorb AusAID into DFAT is an arrogant move and a slap in the face to the 85% of Australians that support overseas aid.
“The new Prime Minister has sent a clear signal – Australia is selfish, and even though we are one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we are not going to bear our ethical and humanitarian responsibility to alleviate global poverty.
“Keeping DFAT and AusAID separate ensured our commitment to poverty alleviation was not compromised to further Australia’s national interest. This barrier no longer exists.
“Mr Abbott’s statement as he was being sworn in today that ‘we won’t forget those who are often marginalised’, is highly hypocritical given that those affected will be the world’s most marginalised.
“The former Labor government’s move away from Australia’s overseas aid commitment has set the stage for the Coalition’s announcement which places self-interest before poverty alleviation.
“The Coalition has turned the clock back on relations with our Pacific and Asian neighbours.
“The trade not aid approach favoured by many neoliberal think tanks is clearly driving this hostile and aggressive foreign policy.
“Hiding this plan from the Australian public during the election campaign is also extremely deceitful and dishonest,” Senator Rhiannon said.
* A Newspoll conducted earlier this year for AusAID found that an overwhelming majority of Australians, 85 per cent, support Australia’s overseas aid program.
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