Australian Greens spokesperson for international aid and development Senator Lee Rhiannon says the Coalition’s $7.6 billion budget cuts over five years to overseas aid is shaping up as the cruellest part of the budget as it impacts directly on the world’s poor.
“Foreign aid has had the deepest cuts of this brutal budget. Mr Abbott will take our contribution down to 0.31 per cent of GNI by 2017-2018. This is in stark contrast to the United Nations goal of a 0.7 percent target by 2015, which was signed by Australia in 2000. While some countries have already met their target, Australia has disgracefully slashed it year after year,” said Senator Rhiannon.
“It is incomprehensible that while $7.9 billion is being cut from our aid budget, Mr Abbott is spending $8.3 billion locking up children and their families in detention prisons.
“Mr Abbott’s first statement after being sworn in – ‘we won’t forget those who are often marginalised’ – highlights the depth of his deception to disadvantaged communities across the world.
“In keeping with the Coalition’s policy of pushing the burden onto the most disadvantaged, the aid spend on the World Bank will increase by $750 million while health, education and welfare programs for the poor will be axed.
“World Bank funds are used to support programs that push low income countries to cut public sector jobs, reduce wages and raise prices.
“It’s no surprise that the Abbott Government has hacked into the amount of money Australia contributes to alleviate global poverty. It has been their agenda to use foreign aid to further Australia's own interests rather than poverty alleviation from day one.
“Treasurer Joe Hockey’s budget is a slap in the face to the thousands of Australians who have campaigned for an improvement in Australia's overseas aid commitment.
“The Greens will work with the community to fight these cuts every step of the way and try and bring humanity back to our foreign aid budget,” said Senator Rhiannon.