Foreign Aid

Labor is strongly committed to our overseas aid program

The Abbott-Turnbull goverment said that they would keep that target of 0.5 per cent of gross national income going towards international development assistance.  They walked away from that promise.  They said as late as December last year, that that was still Australia’s target.  They've walked away from that and made a cut of over $7 billion to the aid budget.

Countries around the world, including Australia when John Howard was Prime Minister, met together and set the millennium development goals with the aim of ending extreme poverty, with reducing the number of women who die in child birth, with reducing the number of children who grow up without an education, dealing with illnesses like HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.

The international community has seen extraordinary success, we haven’t got there yet, but we have seen extraordinary success with millions more kids getting an education and millions more kids being vaccinated against preventable childhood illnesses.

And now, Australia is walking away from those millennium development goals.

This is millions of kids who’ll miss out on an education.  $7.6 billion would teach 25 million people to read and write.  It would provide one and a half billion lifesaving malaria treatments.  It would provide HIV treatments for 10 million people or train 3 million new midwives.  These are extraordinary figures when you think about the good that we could do.

There are 65 million girls and boys around the world who are not getting an education.  Our aid money was helping that.  It was reducing those numbers in our region.  We should be concerned for the millions of kids who will miss out on an education or miss out on lifesaving vaccinations because of the cuts the Abbott-Turnbull Government is making.

In Government, Labor doubled the aid budget from 2.9 billion dollars to 5.7 billion dollars when we left government.  We were on target to meet the 0.5% of gross national income target that, at that time was a bipartisan target.

It is morally, strategically and politically important that Australia adhere to its foreign aid commitments because Australia stands to benefit from stronger countries in our region, more stable nations and better trading partners.

On 15 December, the Abbott-Turnbull Government yet again slashed Australia’s foreign aid budget, and on the same day broke a promise to crack down on tax breaks for multinational companies.  When this government needs to find money they defend multinational companies and then go after the world’s poor.

The latest $3.7 billion cut from foreign aid will take aid to its lowest level as a proportion of national income in more than 40 years.

Where these cuts will fall is not clear, but $1 billion per year is the equivalent of cutting our entire country aid programs to our largest recipients, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

$3.7 billion in foreign aid could:

  • Teach 12 million people to read and write;
  • Provide 740 million lifesaving Malaria treatments;
  • Deliver antiretroviral treatment  for 23.4 million people with HIV/AIDS for a year; or
  • Train 1.5 million new midwives in developing countries.

Our foreign aid program underpins our national interest and our regional stability – that’s why when Labor was in government we nearly doubled foreign aid.  But this Government’s broken promises, whether at home or abroad, always hurt the most disadvantaged.