Government shortchanges world’s poorest people at Christmas

Posted: 17 DEC 12 Written by: Oxfam Australia Media

International aid agency Oxfam Australia has condemned the Australian Government’s use of sneaky accounting to cut back its support to some of the world’s poorest people.

Oxfam’s acting executive director Alexia Huxley described the Government’s decision to move money from aid in poor countries towards asylum seekers in Australia as a case of juggling the books and playing politics with two groups of extremely vulnerable people.

“Australia needs to support both vulnerable people in poor countries as well as asylum seekers in Australia. Instead, it is making some of the world’s poorest people foot the bill for a bad, expensive policy.

“Australians don’t expect our overseas aid funds to be spent in Australia.

“This money could be used to help build more secure communities in developing countries and possibly avoid more men, women and children resorting to desperate measures to start a new life in Australia.

“This latest diversion of Australia’s aid budget could have a devastating impact on people in the world’s poorest countries – many of whom live in our region.

“With about 19,000 children under five still dying every day around the world from preventable diseases like diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia, we cannot afford to cut back our support.

“Since 1990 we’ve seen global poverty halved, the number of children dying each year has dropped and more kids are going to primary school. We need to continue this important work.”

Oxfam said the decision also calls into question the role the Prime Minister plays as co-chair of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals advocacy group that seeks to mobilise global action to help the world’s poor.

“The Australian Government has in the past demonstrated a strong commitment to helping the world’s poor,” Ms Huxley said.

“This latest move compromises our reputation as a good global citizen and a leader in international fight against poverty.”

For interviews or more information contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0400 732 795 or cheecheel@oxfam.org.au