Mike Picone | The Mercury | 6 March 2017

Australia’s Foreign Aid is now just 23 cents per $100 of GNI. The full roll out of $11.3 billion in cuts to Australia’s Aid Budget, by the Abbott/Hockey Government, has Australia at its least generous point in history. I agree with Marie Gregory-Naum (letters, February 27); a calamity is unfolding with the 1.5 billion people living in extreme poverty growing daily. Famine is again spreading in parts of Somalia, South Sudan, North-East Nigeria and Yemen. Global aid relief is insufficient and Oxfam CEO, Helen Szoke, estimates an immediate additional injection of $4.4 billion is needed to meet emergency relief requirements or 20 million people are at risk of dying in the next six months.

It is timely that submissions to our Government’s ‘White Paper Review’ on Australia’s foreign policy (including aid) closes on 28 February. Australia has the capacity to effectively manage a more generous aid program. It is an epidemic that 16,000 children die every day through the effects of poverty and curable disease. I hope that the Government recommits to a goal of growing our aid budget to 0.7% of GNI, so that people in poverty have access to food, clean drinking water, medication and health treatment, vaccinations and children’s education. We can afford to play our part.