The federal Budget provides an additional $1.4 billion over four years to boost development assistance in the South Pacific and in Southeast Asia. Official development aid (“ODA”) funding in the Pacific will reach its highest-ever level in 2022-23 at an estimated $1.9 billion, including $900 million allocated over four years by this Budget.
Meanwhile, spending in Asia—which has been reduced significantly in previous budgets—will attract an additional $470 million over four years, a figure that includes a $200 million climate and infrastructure partnership with Indonesia.
These are well-calibrated increases in Australia’s regional ODA. They will rebuild and strengthen important economic and strategic relationships in Australia’s immediate neighbourhood, and represent a clear recognition that Australia’s prosperity is closely linked with the prosperity of the South Pacific and Southeast Asian regions.
Australia’s security is also closely linked with that of the Pacific and Asian regions. For Australia to be the partner of choice for its Pacific neighbours, expansion and improvement of the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme to bolster worker remittances to Pacific countries and the new Pacific Engagement Visa to support the permanent migration of up to 3,000 citizens from Pacific nations and Timor Leste per annum are important initiatives.
The additional $147 million over four years allocated to AFP deployments to the Solomon Islands, the Australia-Pacific Defence School and enhanced aerial surveillance will strengthen ties between Australia and the Pacific, and between Pacific Island nations themselves.