At a time when other countries are steeply increasing foreign aid, Australia has exacerbated this situation by delivering its 2017-2018 budget, including $303.3 million in cuts to ODA (official development assistance).
The OECD (The Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development) latest peer review of Australia (26th March 2018) said the effectiveness of Australia’s humanitarian efforts has been impaired by successive cuts the nation’s humanitarian aid budget.
The report said this reduction in ODA was due to Australia slashing its aid budget in recent years.
Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, chair of the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD said Australia urgently needed to restore its official development assistance (ODA).
“At the same time the decline in aid flows, despite steady economic growth, has affected the scope of development and humanitarian programs, and we encourage Australia to find a way to reverse this trend.”
“Having moved away from a commitment to reach 0.5 per cent by 2015, Australia has consistently cut ODA since 2013 despite experiencing continued economic growth over this period,” the report said.
“Since 2013, in cumulative terms, the Australian aid budget has been cut by over 30 per cent. Overall budget cuts have affected the scope of both the development and humanitarian [programs].
“Furthermore, Australian budget projections suggest that the ratio of ODA to gross national income will continue to decline, reaching a historic low of 0.22 per cent in 2017/18.”
Marc Purcell, CEO of Australian Council for International Development said that the Australia’s international partners were calling on our nation to lift its game and reinvest in its aid programs.
“This review shows that Australia wants the benefits of being part of the club but isn’t willing to chip-in when the clubhouse roof starts leaking. On contributing our fair share of aid, our partners and allies are telling us that we have failed to live up to the commitments we have made on the international stage,” Purcell said.
“The aid cuts were short-sighted and unwarranted when they were made … they are totally counterproductive for Australia.”
“Now is the time for the Government to acknowledge that, as the ninth largest economy in the world, Australia has the economic capacity to increase its investment in inclusive and equitable development overseas.
“Last year the biggest share of online charity giving in Australia was to aid and humanitarian charities. Over 1.6 million Australians gave $920 million from their own pockets,” Mr Purcell said.
“The government should take a lead from the Australian people.”