Dissenting report by the Australian Greens
This inquiry has provided an opportunity to record concerns about the
government's changes to the delivery of overseas aid, cuts to the aid budget
and to reiterate the importance of Australia meeting its objective of poverty
The Greens strongly agree with the Committee recommendation that an
overarching policy framework for the Australian aid program is a necessary
requirement for the May 2014 budget process, and that the aid program needs
long term strategic objectives and identifiable measures to achieve those
In September 2013, the Coalition Government announced they would cut
Australia's aid budget by $4.5 billion over four years. On 18 January 2014, the
Government announced that around $640 million was being cut from the aid budget
this financial year, which would reduce aid funding by $107 million to what was
spent last year.
Apart from a further shift away from meeting the UN MDG commitment of
0.7 per cent by 2015, this announcement was made more than halfway through the
financial year, when funding and commitments were already in place. These cuts
will bring Australia's ODA/GNI ratio down from 0.37 per cent to 0.33 per cent.
In September 2013 the Coalition Government announced the reintegration
of AusAID into DFAT and that the objective of the aid program is primarily to
serve Australia's national interests.
The Greens are concerned at the amount of aid funding that is being
directed towards the costs of sustaining the Australian Government's policy on
asylum seekers and refugees. We don't believe that this is an appropriate use
of aid funding.
Greens vision for overseas aid
Bilateral and multilateral aid programs should facilitate positive and
equitable change in social, economic and environmental standards for the
citizens of aid-recipient countries.
Aid-funded programs should be consistent with a human-rights based
approach to development; be economically and environmentally sustainable;
should promote local participation and gender equality; and should enhance the
political, economic and social rights of the communities affected by funded
Australian aid should always aim to build economic self-reliance in
developing nations. Affected communities should be empowered with
decision-making abilities informed by free, prior and informed consent, and
with transparent mechanisms ensuring a right to accountability.
Our aid and development dollar should not subsidise or favour Australian
businesses in recipient countries. Nor should our aid funds be used to
facilitate Australian businesses' claims to a developing country's natural
resources or access to contracts that lead to profits being exported from the
recipient country, displacement or disempowerment of local communities and
workers, or environmental degradation.
While many communities benefit from aid and development projects, some
large infrastructure and resource development projects can cause widespread
social injustice and disempowerment. Many communities have suffered the
dispossession of their land, destruction of their environments, and ruin of
their livelihoods, cultures and identities as a result of aid-development
The Australian Greens are concerned about the Australian government's
Mining for Development Initiative. As noted in the Aid/Watch submission:
Mining projects have long been associated with what is
referred to as the "resource curse": the dispossession of Indigenous
peoples and other communities from their land; irreversible environmental
destruction; increasing economic and social inequality; government corruption;
corporate rent-seeking and violent conflicts.
Overseas aid funding should be stable and predictable, and the value of
that funding should not fall over time. Those organisations delivering
aid-funded projects cannot be expected to achieve strategic and sustainable
long-term goals that are "value for money" without funding
Response to Committee recommendations
Committee Recommendation 3
The committee recommends the Australian Government maintain
its commitment to increase the funding by the Consumer Price Index in 2014-15.
The Australian Greens are committed to the United Nations Millennium
Development Goal target of 0.7 per cent GNP by 2015. The recent Labor
government, under a succession of ministers, continually deferred even a
conservative target of 0.5 per cent of GNI.
In 2008, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith committed Australia to a target
of 0.5 per cent of GNI by 2015-16. This was reaffirmed in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
In 2012 Minister Bob Carr deferred this target to 2016-17, and in 2013 he
delayed it again to 2017-18. The Coalition Government's $4.5 billion cut
according to economist Professor Stephen Howes of the Australian National
University will see aid falling from 0.35 per cent of GNI in 2012-13 to 0.31
per cent in 2017.
An increase of aid funding by the Consumer Price Index in 2014-2015 will not
achieve a 0.7 per cent GNI target by 2015.
Committee Recommendation 4
The committee recommends that, in future years, the
Australian Government ensures that Australia's ODA/GNI ratio does not fall
The Greens are committed to the United Nations Millennium Development
Goal target of 0.7 per cent GNP by 2015. For a country as rich as Australia the
current aid commitment of 0.33 per cent is indefensible. We should at least
commit to a 0.5 per cent target by 2016-2017 as per former Minister Carr's
commitment and then work towards 0.7 per cent of GNI allocation to the overseas
Committee Recommendation 5
The committee recommends the Minister for Foreign Affairs
and the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs develop a bipartisan agreement for
the long term funding of Australia's overseas aid and development assistance
program to achieve the ODA/GNI target of 0.5 per cent by 2024-25.
As per the above comments, the Greens do not support an agreement that
will delay an ODA/GNI target of 0.5 per cent by 2024-25. Australia should like
other countries be meeting the 0.7 per cent by 2015. As this is now most
certainly not an achievable target, we should be committing to the former Labor
government's target of 0.5 per cent target by 2016-2017, and developing a
timeline to reach the 0.7 per cent target as soon as possible. Labor and the
Coalition should jointly commit to this target rather than the 2024-25 target.
Committee Recommendation 19
The committee recommends the Australian Government consider
changing the title of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to reflect
the importance of its overseas aid and development assistance responsibilities.
The independent executive agency AusAID should be reinstated. The most
effective way to reflect the importance of our aid and development
responsibilities, to both a domestic and international audience, is to have
them carried out through a politically independent executive agency like
Dissenting report recommendations
aid programs should not be considered as Official Development Assistance.
Overseas development should contribute to poverty alleviation and should not be
used as corporate welfare for Australian companies.
should not be linked to Australia's punitive refugee policy either through
spending in Australia or overseas, and aid should not be used as a means of
leverage deals with neighbouring countries.
Government should maintain its commitment to the MDG's by ensuring all aid
policy meets MDG guidelines.
Government should end programs and policies that do not meet the objectives of
the MDG's such as the Mining for Development Initiative.
aid, including climate change adaptation funds should be added to the aid
program as priority areas.
Government should reassess the aid for trade policy and cease the use of aid as
a bargaining chip to further these negotiations.
significantly increased level of scrutiny and accountability needs to be
applied to where the Government partners with the private sector.
Government to more regularly release information about the aid program and
increase the transparency about decision making processes.
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