Greens Senator and foreign aid spokesperson Lee Rhiannon says if Treasurer Wayne Swan cuts the $4.8 billion foreign aid budget to address deficit concerns this will be read as a slap down for Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd ("Surplus in need of razor aid", Daily Telegraph, p 4 today).
"Slashing the foreign aid budget to bring the budget back to surplus would be a mean, small-minded act. Now is not the time for Australia to turn its back on the world," Senator Rhiannon said.
"Increases to the foreign aid budget, championed by Kevin Rudd, were greeted with optimism by the aid sector which sees it as an opportunity to better meet the huge challenges of poverty and disadvantage.
"Climate change is set to make the lives of many around the world even tougher. Belt-tightening is the last thing that's needed.
"A bipartisan commitment was made by former Prime Minister John Howard to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015.
"This task will be become more challenging if Australia does not play a proper role funding aid and development.
"The Greens support elevating aid and development, granting the portfolio a Cabinet-level minister and establishing an independent Office of Development Effectiveness that reports direct to Parliament," Senator Rhiannon said.