18 January 2014
Govt aid cuts and open door for business major setback for poverty alleviation
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop’s announcement about the latest cuts to Australia’s overseas aid budget marks another Coalition government broken promise that will mean the end to a range of poverty eradication programs in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, Greens overseas aid spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said today.
“Minister Bishop is implementing cruel policies with cuts to some of Australia’s most effective aid programs run by non-government organisations as well as those undertaken by international bodies like UNICEF and the World Health Organisation,” Senator Rhiannon said.
“A worrying aspect of the Minister’s plan is that while cutting funds to aid NGOs she has opened the door to greater involvement of private companies in Australia’s overseas aid program.
“Minister Bishop is turning the clock back on the advances made in focusing Australia’s aid program on poverty alleviation. Under the Howard government aid money going to Australian consultants skyrocketed and there was greater reliance on businesses in the aid program.
“While talking up the need for private sector involvement the Minister is obsessed with micro managing NGO aid delivery.
“Responsible and accountable reporting should always be a standard requirement when public money is being used but Minister Bishop is trying to shackle aid agencies with her obsession for ‘measurable outcomes’ and ‘rigorous benchmarks’.
“Australian aid NGOs already operate under a detailed reporting regime.
“Minister Bishop is now competing with her colleague Immigration Minister Scott Morrison for implementing mean policies that will result in increased hardship for some of our poorest neighbours.
“The Abbott government in cutting the aid budget has sent a clear message to Australia’s aid recipients that our concerns and our priorities are to put business involvement before poverty alleviation,” Senator Rhiannon said.
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