Caritas Expresses Concern That Australia Will Be Cutting Aid Budget

Caritas Australia says it is extremely worried by reports which suggest that Australia’s contribution to fighting climate change will come at the expense of the country’s aid budget which is already shrinking. Caritas expressed its concern in response to a statement made by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who said Australia would spend $800 million fighting climate change but the money would be taken from the existing Australian aid budget.

“While we welcome the government’s recognition of funding climate change adaptation,” Caritas Australia’s CEO Paul O’Callaghan stated, “these efforts must complement other poverty reduction efforts, not compete with them.”

The amount of money in Australia’s aid budget has shrunk to historic lows and is heading to 0.2 of Gross National Income. In comparison countries such as the United Kingdom have achieved their Millennium goal of 0.7%.

“We have seen successive governments using our aid as a piggy bank from which to find savings and funds for other projects. This is not in line with the generosity Australians expect from our country. This announcement was an opportunity to show Australia is a serious global citizen, prepared to do our part for global poverty and for climate change adaptation,” said Mr. O’Callaghan.

Caritas Australia works with communities throughout the world and many of those are in the Pacific which are at most risk from climate change. The development and aid agency of Australia’s Catholic Church has embedded disaster risk reduction across its programs.

Brendan Joyce Caritas Australia’s Advocacy Coordinator says whilst it was right to focus the aid budget on mitigating the risks of climate change, this should not come at the expense of other aid priorities. With hundreds of thousands of Australians marching for action on climate change, the government should pay attention to the public’s demand to ‘hear the cry of the earth and hear the cry of the poor’”.

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