Australia’s aid increase…as abstemious as we are accustomed.
Australian Prime Minister John Howards’ announced aid increase, to ‘about $4 Billion a year by 2010’, may not be as
generous as expected and still falls well below the 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) amount required to meet the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Australian aid watchdog, AID/WATCH, is concerned the move may be a cynical ploy by PM Howard to join with the USA
Government in undermining the 0.7% of GNI target required to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
“Australia should stand by its obligations under the MDGs and map out a clear plan to reach the target of 0.7%” said
AID/WATCH’s Tim O’Connor.” This new announcement offers nothing to the many in our region who remain unable to access
better education, health services and a better quality of life. Further, aid is not just about quantity, quality is also
vital and this is an area Australia does not have a proud record in.”
In a move reminiscent of PM Howard dedicating so called tsunami funds to ‘all parts of Indonesia’, the generosity of
‘about $4 billion’ is open to broad interpretation.
If the Australian economy continues to grow, as conservatively predicted over the next 5 years at 3% per annum, this $4
billion would equate to 0.37% of GNI. While this is a significant increase from the current 0.28% it still falls well
short of the 0.7% figure needed to address the MDGs and would leave Australia in 18thposition out of the 22 donor
countries on the aid donor table.
Further, there is no indication that the momentum to increase Australia’s aid will improve the effectiveness of its aid
program a record that remains less than impressive. PNG, Australia’s main aid recipient, has received more than $15
billion in aid from Australia since 1975, yet languishes towards the bottom of most Human Development Indicators and is
rife with corruption according to the Australian Government.
PM Howard’s recent aid announcement contained no reference to where the money should be spent.
AID/WATCH research indicates that the main beneficiaries of recent aid budgets have been the Federal Government
Departments of Treasury, Attorney General, Immigration and Defence organisations who have little understanding or
expertise in the complex nature of development, yet will receive over $563 million aid dollars this financial year.