The Micah Challenge coalition has today labelled the government’s cuts to Australia’s foreign aid program as “savage” and “brutal”.
Slashed: Clean water and sanitation in developing nations will be affected by budget cuts.
Listen: Economics expert Ross Gittins shares his view on the cuts to foreign aid.
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The 2015 Federal Budget released yesterday revealed that the government plans to cut aid by $3.7 billion over the next three years.
National Coordinator of Micah Challenge, Ben Thurley, said the cuts would push Australia’s aid to the lowest figure ever in Australia’s history.
“This is a deeply ungenerous and short-sighted act,” he said.
“The world’s most vulnerable people are yet again being asked to pay for our Government’s skewed priorities as it balances its budget on the backs of the poor.”
- Aid to Bangladesh – down by $28 million (40%) – affecting the poorest girls and boys and vulnerable families.
- Aid to Vietnam – down by $39 million (40%) – gutting programs that bring clean water and sanitation to communities in need.
- Aid to Sub-Saharan Africa- down by $93 million (70%) – affecting aid programs that provide agricultural development, water and sanitation, and emergency relief.
- Aid to Indonesia – down by 238.9 (40%) – affecting programs that help children get vaccinated and educated, and that empower women through employment.
Foreign Aid Is Down But Defence And Detention Are Up
“At a time when Australia has a growing economy worth $1.6 trillion and the sixth lowest debt in the world, it is shameful that we are making such savage cuts,” said Mr Thurley.
“While we are increasing spending on defence, intelligence, and asylum-seeker deterrence and detention, we are cutting Australian aid which helps provide hope and opportunity for so many.”
“We believe these unprecedented and brutal aid cuts completely contradict the biblical call for leaders to prioritise justice, mercy and protection of the poor and vulnerable."
The Thinking That Drives Government Cuts To Aid
Economics writer and editor Ross Gittins from Fairfax Media said while cutting aid was a popular idea among politicians, he believed it was based on a skewed perception of the need to “look after our own”.
“There are a lot of people whose interpretation of the saying ‘charity begins at home’, means that we shouldn’t give anything to any foreigner until the last poor Australian has been fixed,” he said, “and I don’t agree with that at all.
“We are a rich country and we can afford to give foreign aid.
“One of the lines the government uses is we can’t borrow money to give money to poor foreigners.
“Well the fact is, the government is borrowing money for a lot of things, not just to give money to foreigners. They’re borrowing to send our troops to the Middle East to fight in wars, and for a whole host of things.
“The budget deficit far exceeds the amount the government spends on overseas aid.”