Caritas Australia Urges The Government To Increase Aid Spending

Caritas Australia says it is worried by the intention of the Australian Government to continue cutting its budget for international aid which it says will damage the country’s international standing and contribution to the fight against poverty. In contrast to the claim that Australian aid is being spared from cuts the aid agency is forecasting the budget will be cut by at least $224 in 2016. This is just the latest cut in a series which have been occurring since 2013 and which has reduced Australian aid to its lowest level ever of just 0.2 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI).

Paul O’Callaghan CEO of Caritas Australia says there is a conflict between Australia’s desire to be a regional leader and the cutting of the aid budget.

“We have seen at the recent Paris climate talks that Australia has a role to play in global conversations and action, and we must understand that Australian Aid is a vital part of that. Now is the time to reverse these cuts and return Australia to a position of regional leadership.” Mr. O’Callaghan said.

Last year was bad

The cuts come against the backdrop of a particularly devastating year in 2015 where there was a cyclone that hit Vanuatu and Nepal was crippled by an earthquake. Papua New Guinea was affected by a severe drought which threatened the island nation’s agriculture, not to mention the ongoing crisis in Syria which escalated as it entered its fifth year.

Private funding picking up the slack

Mr. O’Callaghan highlighted the fact that whilst the government was scaling back its aid budget there was a corresponding increase in private funding for international aid and development. Mr. O’Callaghan added that Australians have raised their private donations to aid and development in 2015 because they are acutely aware how Australian aid works and now is the time for the Australian government to understand this.

Increase aid spending

Whilst Australia continues to shrink its aid budget, the conservative government in the UK has achieved the Millennium Development Goal and now gives 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income to development assistance. As the world continues on the path to achieving Sustainable Development Goals in 2016 Caritas is urging the government of Australia to return the country’s aid budget to 2012 levels during its next term and raise the budget to 0.7 per cent by 2030.

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