Greens Senator and foreign aid spokesperson Lee Rhiannon today encouraged Australia’s new Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Bob Carr to become a strong voice for increased foreign aid funding and greater accountability of aid programs.
“Mr Rudd made his mark on Australia’s overseas aid program but Bob Carr can do more,” said Senator for NSW Lee Rhiannon who worked alongside Mr Carr in NSW parliament for six of his ten years as NSW Premier.
“Minister Carr should work to see that foreign aid attracts a Cabinet-level Minister, elevating the status of this important area.
“We need a fully independent Office of Development Effectiveness reporting direct to parliament not AusAID, to enhance scrutiny of the effectiveness of Australia’s aid spending.
“I urge Minister Carr to give priority to ensuring the government lifts the overseas aid budget to 0.7 per cent of gross national income.
“Our new Foreign Minister would be wise to become a strong backer of the 0.7 per cent allocation in his discussions with other foreign ministers. Mr Carr by becoming a public advocate for this important policy would make a huge contribution to achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.
“The Gillard government’s commitment to increase Australia’s overseas development assistance to 0.5 per cent of gross national income by 2015 is a great start. But this funding commitment still lags behind many other developed nations, including Britain, Ireland, Spain, Germany and France.
“With the government intent on delivering a budget surplus Senator Carr must be ready to fight for a boost to foreign aid funding and protect it from potential cuts,” Senator Rhiannon said.