Greens spokesperson for international aid Senator Lee Rhiannon has said the Abbott government has trashed our overseas aid program with cuts totalling $11 billion since they came into office, with the bulk of the remaining aid budget directed away from programs targeting poverty alleviation.
"It is shameful that the primary purpose of aid programs under the Liberal/National government must be for Australia's national interest and not poverty reduction," Senator Rhiannon said.
"The damage inflicted by the Abbott-Bishop approach to aid is not just from massive funding cuts. The government is now using more aid money to advance Australian business interests and domestic policies.
"In the case of Cambodia and Nauru, aid funding is being used as a bargaining chip for Australia's border protection policy.
"Australian aid money going to the private sector is another huge cause for concern. The newly created Innovation XChange program is using aid money to open up business opportunities in low income countries.
"The Innovation XChange board consists of people involved in the private sector as well as climate sceptic Bjorn Lomborg. It is very doubtful if any of the $140 million in Australian aid money allocated to Innovation XChange will achieve poverty reduction.
"DFAT boasts that this program is to ‘enhance Australia's impact on the economies of the Indo-Pacific region'.
"The Coalition government has more than doubled funding to the Colombo Plan which funds undergraduate Australians to study in Asia-Pacific countries. This Plan may have merit but it is an education program for young Australians that should not be funded out of the aid budget.
"This approach to overseas aid gives further weight to the call for the Abbott government to be voted out of office. There is no limit to their cruelness targeting disadvantaged Australians and the world's most vulnerable," Senator Rhiannon said.