MEDIA RELEASE       12 May 2015

 SYDNEY: Australian independent aid monitor, AID/WATCH, has announced they are pleased to see that there are no further budget cuts to foreign aid. They are using this as a chance to call for greater scrutiny from both the Opposition and the aid sector on aid policy.

AID/WATCH Director Thulsi Narayanasamy says, “a focus on the size of the aid budget has detracted from a focus on what aid is really spent on. We cannot say that aid saves lives any longer. A small amount of aid is spent on health programs but far more of it is not.”

“Providing assistance with health, education and climate change are not the priority anymore, supporting mining companies, cruise ship companies, and banks are now paraded as innovation when in many ways these programs are exacerbating the problem.”

The budget is largely what was expected. A re-focus on the Indo-Pacific region has seen funding predictably cut from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

Ms Narayanasamy said, “The countries that provide support to Australia’s offshore detention policy and resettlement of refugees have retained their funding. Nauru and Cambodia have retained their budgets, with PNG seeing only a minor 5% reduction in aid, making it the new the number one recipient of Australian aid after Indonesia had their budget cut.”

“This is a demonstration of the use of aid as a bargaining chip to paradoxically support an inherently harmful policy to some of the most marginalised peoples.”

“The size of the aid budget is less relevant when a larger budget could mean support for all the wrong things.”

“Until the aid objective re-focuses on poverty reduction and does away with Australia’s interests as the primary focus, we will continue to see harmful projects funded under the guise of aid. It is used to support the Australian private sector, secure Australia’s trade interests in the region and bolster the ongoing policy of maligning asylum seekers for domestic political gain.”

For media enquiries contact Thulsi Narayanasamy, Director, AID/WATCH:

 

Phone: 0405 801 943 Email: thulsi@aidwatch.org.au

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