Australian Greens International Development spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi has criticised the Government’s international aid cuts announced today.
Senator Faruqi has said the repurposing of Australia’s already shrinking aid budget is a signal the Coalition government is moving further away from the global community and retreating from its responsibilities. While Australian government spending on the COVID-19 response in the Pacific is very welcome, this should involve new funding, not a repurposing of the existing budget.
Senator Faruqi said:
“Australian aid is already paltry. The Liberals would use any excuse to cut our aid budget and they are using the COVID-19 crisis to do just that. This further reinforces that their vision of Australia is one of isolationism and national interest only.
“The Australian Government should increase, rather than repurpose, aid to our immediate neighbours so we can come out of the COVID-19 crisis stronger. The government should also cancel the existing debt owed to us by Pacific countries.
“At this time of crisis, the Government should be increasing our aid budget, not further shrinking it by cutting programs. We need a massive boost in our ODA spending given our responsibility to the global community and, especially, to the Global South.
“The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted, more than ever, the need for a strong global community where aid plays a significant role in strengthening our collective response. To cut programs at this time is a huge blow to our aid program.
“We know the COVID-19 crisis has decimated economies and I’m glad to see the Australian Government committing to using its leverage at international financial institutions for financial support packages in the Pacific, but this needs to go further. We should be lobbying for debt forgiveness,” she said.