New record lows for foreign aid: report

Since the Coalition’s 2014 decision to cut foreign aid funding by $1.4 billion per year, Australia’s foreign aid record has not improved, with the 2017-18 Budget representing new lows for aid funding, a new report from policy think tank The Australia Institute finds.

The reports suggest that Australia’s aid spending, already at record lows, could be cut further to 0.18% of Australia’s Gross National Income. This would make Australia’s aid contribution proportionately lower than that of Greece. 

“Julie Bishop has overseen the largest drop in aid spending, relative to Gross National Income, of any foreign minister in Australian history,” Ebony Bennett, Deputy Director of The Australia Institute said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop made a pledge to the development community in January 2014:

“What I have done is stabilised the budget at $5 billion per annum. It will increase in line with inflation, so it will go up by CPI. This will provide certainty”

“Julie Bishop is $1.3 billion dollars short of her promise to stabilise the aid budget at $5 billion per annum.”

Figure: Official Development Assistance to Gross National Income

graphical depiction of cuts to aid budget showing Julie Bishop has presided over biggest cuts to foreign aid

The report found that in 1974 Australia allocated 0.45% of GNI to foreign aid, sliding to just 0.23% today, and projected to fall even further to 0.20% by 2021.

“The government is neglecting both its heart and head with this ongoing retreat from our own commitments to aid.

“At a time of global instability, cutting aid is not only cruel, but detrimental to Australia’s ability to engage in ‘soft power’.

Full report —

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The Australia Institute is a Canberra-based public policy think tank established in 1994

www.tai.org.au

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