Largest aid cut ever makes Australia “leaners, not lifters”

RESULTS advocates standing strong in support of Australian Aid

AUD$1 billion has been cut from Australia’s aid program in the 2015-16 Federal Budget. This shows that the Government has ignored the call of tens of thousands of citizens who campaigned for Australian aid not to be cut, according to anti-poverty advocacy group RESULTS International Australia.

This reduction of more than 20% in real terms is the biggest cut in one year since Australia started providing overseas aid.

“As the countries of the world will be negotiating the new global development goals to succeed the Millennium Development Goals later this year, this is the wrong time reduce Australia’s aid,” Results International Australia’s CEO, Maree Nutt said. “We are now seen by our international partners as leaners, not lifters.”

The cut in aid in 2015-16 will affect vital health and education investments.  For example, a reduction of this size could mean that we have missed the opportunity to send 200,000 children to school or provide trained birth attendants for 140,000 women.

“It is clear to me that this budget fails the fairness test. Where is the fairness in failing to provide the most basic opportunities to the most disadvantaged children in our world?” Ms Nutt said.

A relief is that the budget does maintain the previously announced contributions for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, the Global Partnership for Education and recently announced medical research funding for Tuberculosis and Malaria.

“However, Australia could provide even more to these essential programs if the overall aid program increases in the next three years,” Ms Nutt said. “The Government set out some ambitious goals for the aid program in its policy statement of last June, but is not providing sufficient funding to realise these ambitions.”

“It is essential that the Government ensures that this year’s $1 billion cut is the end of repeated reductions in the aid program, and starts to rebuild the aid in 2016-17,” Ms Nutt added.  “We can’t afford to let our partners in the region down.”

RESULTS members were among thousands of Australians who wrote to their Members of Parliament and the Treasurer calling on the Government to maintain the aid program this year.

“And we will continue to call on the Government and all political parties to make action on poverty a higher priority. It is the fair thing to do,” said Ms Nutt.

ENDS

Media contact: Camilla Ryberg I 0435 182 567

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