Charities slam ‘damaging’ foreign aids cuts in Federal Budget

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Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Australia has given up on combating poverty, according to international charities, with Tuesday’s Federal Budget slashing a further $224 million from the foreign aid budget.

The percentage of overseas aid as a share of national income has been cut to just 0.23 per cent, the lowest level recorded in Australia’s history.

“These cuts will take aid to its lowest level and will make our nation the least generous we’ve ever been,” said Ben Thurley, national co-ordinator of the Micah Australia coalition of churches.

“Coming on top of more than $11 billion in cuts to aid since coming to office, this will be the fourth time the Government has targeted Australian aid for cuts.

“While many other countries are increasing their international assistance towards the fight against poverty, Australia is stepping back its role in building a fairer world.

“The reality is that it’s people and communities struggling against poverty in our region and other parts of the world who will bear the consequences of these cuts.”

While Australia remained one of the wealthiest nations in the OECD group, the latest funding cut “will confirm our major turn to insularity and not providing a reasonable share in the global response”, said Caritas Australia CEO Paul O’Callaghan.

“Australia’s partners in the region and beyond comment with regret that Australia has given up its shared leadership role in combating poverty.”

Mr O’Callaghan said the 30 per cent cut in the nation’s official aid program since 2013 signified a major shift in Australia’s international priorities.

Micah Australia remained committed to reversing the “damaging cuts”, Mr Thurley said.

“We call on all political parties to commit to restoring Australia’s aid program – which is one critical way that we work with others to tackle poverty.”