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Govt robs money from aid budget for failed refugee policy

The Gillard government's plans to cut foreign aid programs by about $400 million breaks Labor's commitment to increase the budget allocation for overseas development, Greens spokesperson on foreign aid Senator Lee Rhiannon said tonight.

"Cutting $400 million out of the aid budget to prop up Labor's failed refugee policy will take money away from education, health and other urgently needed projects in low-income countries", Senator Rhiannon said.

"On top of the promise that the government broke in May to increase the aid budget, these latest cuts show that Labor's commitment to foreign aid is rubbery and that the aid budget is fair game for cuts.

"Refugees seeking protection and a new life in Australia should be given assistance but that should not be achieved off the back of our aid commitments. If the Labor government followed their international obligations the cost of managing refugees would not be nearly as high as it currently is. 

"All the spin and mastery of words from Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr cannot mask the underhand tactics of this government to claw back money from the aid budget.

"Once again the Labor government is adopting the damaging policies of the Howard government. The former Coalition government spent $27 million in aid money on detention centres in Nauru and Manus Island. Labor was critical of this when they were in Opposition. Now they are robbing money from the aid budget in the same way.

"I have questioned Minister Carr in the Senate and AusAID in budget estimates about misusing aid money to pay for Australia's detention policies and the Greens will continue to pressure the government to contribute Australia's fair share to alleviate global poverty", said Senator Rhiannon.



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