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Iraq's humanitarian crisis grows

The operation to retake Mosul has reinvigorated the international community’s interest in the humanitarian dimensions of the conflict in Iraq. This has also resulted in a raft of recent donations to address the coming crisis – many groups estimate up to 1.5 million people could potentially being displaced or affected by the operation to retake the city. However, Iraq’s humanitarian and development needs extend far beyond the immediate requirements in Mosul. Read more...

Increased official development assistance (ODA) for Manus Province

Australia’s planned development assistance for Manus Province under the Partnership for Development (2012–15) was expected to be approximately $15 million. However, according to a recent update released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 20 March 2015 (Economic and Development Benefits to PNG of the Regional Resettlement Arrangement), Australia is now providing additional assistance of about $38 million, despite a shrinking overall aid budget. Read more...

Australian aid to PNG: a new paradigm?

While most commentary on Australia’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget for 2014–15 has focussed on the overall outlay, what has largely been overlooked have been the allocations for the two largest recipients of Australian aid—Indonesia and PNG. Read more...

The Coalition’s PPL scheme: budget drain or revenue raiser?

One of the most controversial features of the Coalition Government’s proposed Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme is its significantly greater cost compared with the current scheme. The more generous proposed scheme is expected to cost $5.7 billion per year when up and running in 2016-17, while the current scheme will cost $2 billion in that year. Media reports suggest that this has led some Coalition members of parliament to urge the Prime Minister to either abandon or ‘scale down’ his proposed scheme. However, it is important to note that according to the Coalition’s 2013 election costings the scheme is expected to make money by its second year—that is, it will ... Read more...

Syria: losing ground in the fight to eradicate polio

Polio resurfaced in Syria late last year, and has now been found in Iraq as well, leading to concerns that this could reverse gains in international efforts to eradicate the virus. A side effect of the conflict in Syria, now running for over three years, is that for many children vaccinations have lapsed.  According to the BBC‘Vaccination rates in Syria fell from 91 per cent of children before the war to an estimated 68 per cent in 2012. But those are national figures. In rebel-held territory, where all the polio cases so far have occurred, immunisation levels are much lower’. In some cases, the Syrian Government has been accused of deliberately excluding rebel-held areas ... Read more...

Impact of drought in the Middle East

According to a Reuters report from 7 March, United Nations (UN) agencies and water and agricultural authorities are preparing to declare a drought in the Middle East. Aside from the immediate impact of drought on crops, water scarcity is already a problem in parts of the Middle East, and some of the most affected countries are already struggling to absorb hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. Read more...

Uncertain future: Australian aid to Afghanistan

Australia’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Afghanistan has increased substantially over the past few years from $82.1 million in 2009–10 to a peak of $198.4 million in 2011–12. Afghanistan was the fourth largest recipient of Australian ODA in 2012–13 (after Indonesia, PNG and the Solomons) with an expected expenditure of about $182.8 million. This includes ODA-eligible expenditure by other government departments, including Immigration and Citizenship ($6.9 million), Defence ($9.2 million) and Attorney-General’s–Australian Federal Police ($17.7 million).Approximately 20 per cent of AusAID’s expenditure was in Uruzgan and included the following programs:Children of Uruzgan Program (... Read more...

Removing employer responsibility for Paid Parental Leave

New Abbott Government legislation will remove the requirement for employers to make payments to employees under the national Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme from 1 March 2014. Instead, employees would be paid directly by the Department of Human Services, unless the employer chooses to make the payments.The Government's reason for making the change is to 'ease administrative burdens on business'. Currently, in most cases, the Commonwealth Government funds employers to provide instalments of PPL to their eligible long-term employees for up to 18 weeks at the National Minimum Wage (currently $606.50 per week). The employer role in making these payments was suggested by the Productivity Commiss... Read more...

Regional Resettlement Arrangement (RSA) and Australian aid to Papua New Guinea

Debate over the recent RSA agreement between Australia and PNG has resulted in the potential implications for Australia’s bilateral aid program being largely misinterpreted.On 15 July 2013, during Prime Minister Rudd’s visit to PNG, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said:Today the Prime Minister and I agreed to moving forward many of the programs that we have agreed to so that we can start implementing many of those initiatives that we have initially signed as part of the ongoing programs that we have between the two countries.…And I want to thank the Australian Government for accepting our desire and our suggestion to them that they work together with our government in making sure that we work o... Read more...

OECD Development Co-operation Peer Review: Australia 2013

On 6 May 2013, the Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the OECD Development Co-operation Peer Review: Australia 2013. The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD carries out peer reviews of member countries’ aid programs approximately every four years. Australia’s last review was undertaken in 2008.The current Review notes that since the 2008 Review, ‘AusAID has gone through the biggest change in its history’ which represents an ‘unprecedented reform of Australian development co-operation’ (p.13). The Review points out that 80 per cent (16 recommendations) of the 2008 Review has been implemented a... Read more...

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