Responding to the Coalition’s planned $4.5 billion cut to the overseas aid budget, Greens aid and development spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said this was a cruel policy towards the world’s poor and represents a broken commitment.
“The Coalition’s proposed aid cuts make Australia a selfish neighbour to countries in the Asia Pacific region,” Senator Rhiannon said.
“Cutting the overseas aid budget by $4.5 billion over four years will limit the effectiveness of many of Australia’s outstanding aid and development programs.
“The harshness of the cuts is exacerbated by the Coalition plan to use the money saved on three motorway projects: Melbourne's East West link, Sydney's WestConnex and Brisbane's Gateway upgrade.
“The Coalition has broken their commitment on foreign aid made in the federal parliament.
“In November 2011 Labor and the Coalition voted in the Senate for a Greens motion calling for the aid budget to increase to 0.5 per cent of GNI by 2015.
“The Coalition is out of step with public opinion. A Newspoll conducted earlier this year for AusAID found that an overwhelming majority of Australians, 85 per cent, support Australia’s overseas aid program.
“Australia, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, bears both the ethical and humanitarian responsibility to assist low income countries.
“Australian aid funding is promoting economic viability, food security, social, political and educational infrastructure in our region and for the world’s poorest countries. This work is fundamental for the promotion of self-determination, development and democracy in these nations.
“Yesterday’s announcement represents an abandonment of cross-party commitment to increase aid funding to 0.5 per cent of gross national income. The Coalition’s statement that it supports this increase is meaningless without a time frame,” Senator Rhiannon said.
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