More than a quarter of the Gillard Government’s $1.5b surplus will come from cuts to Australia’s aid program that helps the world’s poorest people, international aid agency Oxfam Australia said today.
Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said these substantial cuts had been made despite Australia’s position as one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
Last year’s forward estimates said Australia’s overseas aid program would reach 0.38 per cent of national income this year – equivalent to an increase of about $700 million.
But in last night’s federal budget, the ratio of aid spending has been frozen, with a dollar increase of $300 million.
Mr Hewett said this meant $400 million less – more than a quarter of the total budget surplus – will be spent on fighting global poverty this year.
“This government’s budget surplus has been largely paid for by the world’s poor,” Mr Hewett said.
“We call on the government to re-think its decision to delay aid spending.
“We urge the government to rejoin the Abbott-led opposition and the Greens in upholding their commitment to increase aid spending to 0.5 per cent of national income by 2015.”
Note to editors: Andrew Hewett is in Canberra and available for comment.
For interviews or more information contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0400 732 795 or firstname.lastname@example.org