Reported cuts of $3.7 billion from the foreign aid budget by the Abbott Government on top of the $7.6billion in cuts already made are both cruel and un-strategic and represent the third broken promise from this government on aid levels, Oxfam said today.
Oxfam Australia said if today’s reports were correct this would be the third cut to Australian aid in just one year.
“It will bring total cuts to aid by this Government to more than $11billion, a figure that beggars belief,” Dr Szoke said.
“Aid is being treated as an ATM and Joe Hockey, Tony Abbott and Mathias Cormann all have the PIN. They are making easy withdrawals without due consideration of the long-term impact.
“It shouldn’t be that easy,” Dr Szoke said. “A number of countries have protected their aid budgets through legislation. Today’s cuts mean we must ask the question, is it now time for the Australian government to do the same?”
Dr Szoke said the cuts were cruel and un-strategic.
“These cuts undermine the Government’s own efforts of ‘economic diplomacy’ and years of tax-payer investment in our region but most of all, they will affect real people who can least afford it,” she said.
“Where Australia was once a lifter on the world stage, we will become a leaner with our aid failing to levels not seen in over 40 years of Australian aid.”
“Make no mistake, today’s cruel cuts will impact on poor people’s lives. We have already seen progress stalled and programs impacted by the heavy burden of cuts so far on Australia’s modest aid budget.
“Humanitarian need is at an all-time high – and Oxfam has a real concern that these cuts will mean Australia is less capable of responding when disaster strikes – something we pride ourselves on as a nation.
“While Australia enjoys the place of the fourth wealthiest per capita nation, these latest cuts will bring Australian aid to its knees, paling in comparison to the aid given by other wealthy nations such as the UK, France and Germany. They reveal a callous lack of care for Australia’s promises to help the poorest people of the world,” Dr Szoke said.
“Balancing the budget on the backs of the world’s poor time and time again is a short-term and short-sighted answer. It undermines Australia’s long-term efforts to make the world a safer, healthier and more prosperous place for all.”
For interviews or more information, please contact Louise Perry on 0414 456 015 or Louisep@oxfam.org.au