Caritas Australia, the international aid and development agency of the Catholic Church, believes that the decision to cut Australian aid represents a significant turning away from six decades of Australia playing a constructive leadership role in our region and on the world stage.
Treasurer Joe Hockey announced deep cuts of a further $3.7 billion from the aid budget in today’s Mid-year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO).
Caritas Australia CEO Paul O’Callaghan said that, together with the May budget cuts which took $7.6 billion from Australia’s overseas aid program, more than $11 billion has been cut from the aid budget in the last year alone.
In terms of OECD rankings Australia’s contributions to overseas aid are now at their lowest level ever since OECD records began in 1954.
“These cuts are severe and will put Australia near the bottom of the OECD rankings as a contributor to international aid and development efforts,”Mr O’Callaghan said.
“Every previous Coalition government has expanded Australia’s role as an international player through overseas aid and development. This has been a key reason that Australia is regarded as a significant contributor in the region and globally.
“For the hundreds of thousands of Australian Catholics in parishes and schools around the country, this decision represents an abandoning of the region’s poorest people.
“Australia is the third wealthiest country on a per capita basis in the world, yet we will now slide to around 20th position as a contributor to international development,” Mr O’Callaghan said.
“These additional cuts will undermine Australia’s capacity to promote health, prosperity and security in our region.
“For tens of millions of poor people in neighbouring countries, Australia’s aid program has made a very real difference and has enabled many countries to achieve higher levels of economic growth and prosperity and stability.”