Greens overseas aid spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon has warned that if the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook fails to restore funding to Australia’s overseas aid budget Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his government will cause further damage to our standing with Pacific and Asian neighbours.
‘The Prime Minister needs to be a champion of overseas aid and his leadership should start with a plan to restore funding for health, education and sanitation programs in low income countries in next week’s MYEFO statement,’ Senator Rhiannon said.
‘The Turnbull-Abbott government’s billion dollar reductions in the aid budget are inflicting great harm from Africa to the Pacific with programs that treat preventable blindness, provide textbooks for school children and build sanitation projects cut or wound up.
‘Mr Turnbull has the opportunity to chart a supportive path on the international stage by turning the funding cuts around.
‘As Australia is one of the world’s ten wealthiest nations we clearly have a responsibility to address inequality and hardship in developing nations.
‘Under the Turnbull-Abbott government $11.3 billion cuts have been applied to the overseas aid budget over four successive years from 2013. By the next financial year aid assistance will be just 85 cents in every $100 spent in the federal budget.
‘The biggest cut in the last MYEFO statement delivered by former Treasurer Joe Hockey was nearly $4 billion.
‘It is essential that Mr Turnbull reverse this trend and work to restore the aid budget and ensure that funding is spent on programs that assist ordinary people and are not a backdoor handout to Australian businesses to expand their overseas markets,’ Senator Rhiannon said.