Aid groups accuse Coalition of broken promises, but PNG spared
20 January 2014
LENORE TAYLOR | The Guardian | Extracts
AUSTRALIAN AID GROUPS ARE ACCUSING the Federal Coalition government of breaking an election commitment after it revealed their funding would be cut mid-year as part of a $650 million reduction in budgeted foreign aid spending, leaving 2013-14 spending $107 million below what was spent last year.
Foreign minister Julie Bishop announced the cuts for aid groups as well as a complete defunding of international environmental programs. The government is redirecting a pared-back aid budget towards the region but will maintain spending on countries such as Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Nauru, whose co-operation is necessary for the success of its asylum policy.
Organisations such as Care, Save the Children, Caritas, ChildFund, Plan International and the Fred Hollows Foundation – who have partnership agreements with the government – have had their current year funding cut by about 8%.
They say that means they are losing money already allocated to programs related to water and sanitation, elimination of violence against women, disaster reduction work and small-scale agriculture, among others.
The organisations say the cuts clearly break a Coalition promise not to cut funding when it announced a $4.5bn cut to the aid budget over the next four years two days before the federal election.
At the time of that cut, the government said “the Coalition will reprioritise foreign aid allocations towards non-government organisations that deliver on-the-ground support for those most in need”.
The government said it needed to redirect the $4.5 billion towards domestic infrastructure.
The government has minimised cuts for countries in the region and those involved in its asylum policy. The $448 million promised to Papua New Guinea has been retained. Nauru’s funding has also stayed the same.
The cuts put Australia even further away from meeting the United Nations’ Millenium Development Goal of developed nations spending 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) in aid by 2015. Labor governments had already twice deferred Australia’s target of 0.5% of GNI by 2015. Bishop made no mention of the target in her statement.
She said she intended to “ensure the Australian aid budget is managed effectively and directed to organisations delivering on-the-ground support to those most in need”.
A deal is a deal I suppose, but why wait for Julie Bishop?
Shouldn't the PNG government be doing something about this?
Posted by: Phil Fitzpatrick | 23 January 2014 at 12:43 PM
The Post Courier today mentions lots of projects going ahead in Manus re another asylum centre. But Australia promised that it would renovate Angau hospital as part of the deal.
No sign of anything going on at Angau. At this moment at Angau they have no quinine! They are using another drug on little children suffering from malaria which puts them in fit. Things are very grim at Angau hospital.
Can somebody press Miss Bishops's PANIC button. Australia needs to do something to help Angau right at this moment! These poor sick babies are having a terrible time.
Posted by: Mrs Barbara Short | 23 January 2014 at 11:42 AM
"$448 million promised to Papua New Guinea has been retained. Nauru’s funding has also stayed the same." How much of this will be siphoned off for the operation of Australia's asylum seeker prisons on Manus and Naru rather than on development programs?
Posted by: Daniel Doyle | 20 January 2014 at 06:59 PM