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Carr fails to protect aid budget from cuts

Foreign Minister Bob Carr's has walked away from a promise to keep aid increases on track, said Greens spokesperson for overseas aid Lee Rhiannon following confirmation that the aid will be targeted in tomorrow's budget and that aid money will continue to be diverted to pay for onshore asylum-seeker costs.

"Foreign Minister Bob Carr has shown himself to be a poor advocate for the overseasaid budget. He has failed to quarantine the aid budget from being raided for onshore asylum seeker costs and he has entrenched aid as a honey pot to dip into to boost the budget's bottom line", said Senator Rhiannon.

"Neither the Labor government nor Tony Abbot can be trusted to stand up for Australia's aid commitments.

"The decision to again push back promised aid increases and to lock in diverting aid money to domestic asylum-seeker costs is small-minded, mean and goes against public support for Australia to give its fair share to end global poverty.

"The Greens have a bill ready to go that would lock in a timetable to meet Australia's obligations to increase aid and would make clear that the aid budget should not cover the cost of onshore asylum-seeker programs.

"Rather than working with the Greens to lock in a timeline to increase aid, the Gillard government is doing the work of Tony Abbott to shave down the aid budget.

"Minister Carr's decision in December to divert $375 million from the aid budget forced the closure of women's rights, education and health programs across the region. The decision to continue diverting money to prop up onshore asylum-seeker programs is a misuse of the aid budget.

"Australia's aid contribution is already well-behind many OECD countries, including the debt-laden conservative British government which this year met the target of spending 0.7 per cent of gross national income on aid.

"As a wealthy nation, there is no excuse for Australia to shirk responsibility and short-change our aid programs and the people that rely on Australian aid", said Senator Rhiannon.

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