The decision, revealed in Tuesday night’s budget, will save the Government $2.9 billion over four years.
The Government had committed to increases in the foreign aid budget so it would reach 0.5 per cent of gross national income (GNI) by 2015-16.
But Foreign Minister Bob Carr says Australia’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) allocation will increase by $300 million in 2012-13 and maintain a level of 0.35 per cent.
‘In a tight fiscal environment, the Government has decided to defer the achievement of providing 0.5 per cent of GNI to official development assistance by one year,’ Senator Carr said.
‘Funding for ODA will continue to grow each year. It will, however, grow at a slightly slower rate so that 0.5 per cent of GNI is reached in 2016-17.’
Senator Carr says the growth path in funding could see Australia become the sixth-largest aid donor in the OECD.
The aid budget is predicted to go from $4.8 billion in 2011-12 to around $7.7 billion by 2015-16.
Around 70 per cent of Australia’s foreign aid is spent in the Asia-Pacific region.
Meanwhile, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says the Government will designate 13,750 places under its humanitarian program next financial year.
‘Our main resettlement focus will continue to be on refugees from the three key regions of Africa, Asia and the Middle East,’ Mr Bowen said.
Also, around $52 million will be spent over the next five years to increase Australia’s diplomatic presence overseas, creating two new mission posts in China and Senegal.