In spite of the Treasurer’s boast of an economy “that has earned us a AAA-rating from all three major ratings agencies for the very first time in our history”, with a GDP of 1.5 trillion dollars, low unemployment (4.9%), low inflation (1.6%) and low interest rates (3.75%), the 2012 budget has failed to find an additional, promised, increase of 0.03 per cent (from 0.35 to 0.38) for Australia’s overseas aid and development program.
The government’s decision to delay the increase to 2016-17 means $447.2 million has been lost for aid in 2012-13, a $2.9 billion loss projected over four years. Compare this to the UK government which will continue to honour its commitment to increase foreign aid to 0.7 per cent by 2015, despite the country being in a double-dip recession.
According to World Vision CEO Rev Tim Costello “The delay of 2015 commitment could cost the lives of an extra 250,000 people, and have a huge impact on many more”.
Furthermore, Australia’s delay in honouring our commitment to aid means:
- A promise kept = aid increases by $750 million in 2012-13
- A promise denied = aid increases by $315 million in 2012-13.
- A promise kept = aid would increase to 0.38% of Gross National Income in 2012-13 and 0.5% GNI in 2015-16
- A promise denied = aid stays flat at 0.35% GNI in 2012-13 and reaches 0.5% GNI only in 2016-17, if we’re optimistic.
Australia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world living in the wealthiest point in world history and in the middle of a mining boom. Australia can afford to respond to those in need both within and beyond our borders, especially if it is so keen to pursue a greater international role through gaining a seat on the UN Security Council.