On the first day of the new Abbott government, it was announced that Australia’s overseas development agency, AusAID, was to be incorporated into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

There has long been a tension between the purported aim of an aid agency, alleviating poverty, and the strategic and trade priorities of successive Australian governments. It would appear that this new government plans to put trade at the forefront of the aid program. In the light of this, AID/WATCH, an organisation that monitors and seeks to influence the Australian government’s overseas aid program, hosted a panel talk last week. The title of the talk was ‘Trading Away Futures? Trade, Aid and Development’. Thulsi Narayanasamy is a director of AID/WATCH and she spoke to AidWorks’ Cate Coorey.