AusAID should not become an ATM for diplomats - 19 September

MEDIA RELEASE

The Abbott Government’s decision to integrate AusAID into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is extremely short-sighted.

“AusAID is not an ATM for diplomats,” said Andrew Leigh, the Federal Member for Fraser in the Australian Capital Territory.

“The purpose of development assistance is fighting poverty. Absorbing AusAID into DFAT signals that fight - to save and improve the lives of the world’s absolute poor - is not valued.”

“This takes us back to 1973. Like Tony Abbott’s decision to scrap the science ministry and his choice to have only one women in a cabinet of twenty people, this shows that this is a back-to-the-future government,” said Dr Leigh.

“As a developed and wealthy nation, Australia has galvanised international efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals. AusAID’s reduced status and capacity will undermine that work and muddy the prime objective of poverty alleviation, mixing that objective with trade and diplomatic goals.”

Shadow International Development Minister Melissa Parke has been one of the most articulate advocates of using aid to combat poverty. In a speech delivered this month, Ms Parke told her audience:

“Labor believes that helping people and nations escape from suffering and deprivation is core to our national ethos, and that creating safety, peace, wellbeing and self-sufficiency, especially in our region, is central to the Australian project.”

"Under Labor, Australian aid rose to 0.37 per cent of Gross National Income. We became one of the world's top ten donor nations. The Coalition's decision to cut $4.5 billion from the aid budget will hurt the world's poorest, so they can pay for abolishing the mining tax, to help some of the world's richest people," Dr Leigh said.

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