It feels like every week now there’s news of another potential ‘cut’ to the Australian foreign aid program. But is all the fuss just a result of a few radical ‘lefties’, idealistic youngsters and ‘social-justicesy’ types crying foul over a little bit of missing change?
Exactly how bad is the current state of affairs surrounding Australia’s aid giving?
You’re about to find out.
I don’t like graphs and I hate numbers, so thankfully for you, I’ve gotten together with Development Economist, Christopher Hoy, from the blog Poverty Analysis to present to you – the clearest picture you’ll ever get as to exactly how ‘pathetic’ the Australian foreign aid program has become.
The Graph Of ‘Broken Promises’
I said I don’t like graphs, and I hate this one. It’s simple, easy to read… and totally embarrassing to anyone who calls themselves an ‘Australian’.
So let me spell out exactly what we’re looking at.
The Yellow Line – Our promise
In the year 2000, Australia made a commitment along with 189 nations that we would,
“Spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanising conditions of extreme poverty….”
Then Prime Minister, John Howard, agreed to the target set by the international community that wealthy countries should give 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) in foreign aid. That’s only 70c for every $100 Australia earns.
Pretty achievable right? And hey, a promise is a promise… right?
The Red Line – Our compromise
Australia slowly started to increase its foreign aid contribution from a historic low of 0.23% GNI in 2003/04. Then a compromise. We would wouldn’t reach 0.7 but would work towards giving 0.5% GNI by 2015. A disappointing blow but at least one that had bipartisan support at the time.
Ok. So maybe 0.5 was a more ‘reasonable’ figure. Achievable at least?
The Blue Line – Our failure
And there it is. That pathetic blue line which appears to be taking yet another nose-dive (with ‘leaks’ of even further possible cuts in this week’s papers) is what Australia currently gives in foreign aid.
I’ll let CEO of World Vision Australia, Tim Costello, spell out exactly what this means,
“We’ve already seen $11bn slashed from the program last year and our aid is now at its least generous level in history.”
To summarise ‘The Graph of Broken Promises’
Successive Australian Governments have cut the aid budget six times in three years. And this year, Australian foreign aid will shrink to around one-third of its international commitment and less than half of its domestic commitment.
Like I said, it’s just pathetic.
Aussies So Much Stingier Than… The Poms!? (And just about everyone else)
Surely given the tumultuous global economy and unstable security landscape post 9/11, other wealthy nations have abandoned their commitments to 0.7?
Wrong. Australia is one of the least generous nations in the world given its relative wealth and low debt levels.
And then there’s the Poms…
In the same week as the UK parliament passed a law to provide 0.7% of GNI in aid, the Australian Prime Minister described Australia’s vicious aid cuts as ‘modest’. This is despite Australia being in a significantly better economic position than the UK, as can be seen in the table below.
Australia has an income per person more than 50% higher than the UK and Australia has only around 20% the level of government debt, yet it provides only 1/5 the level of aid.
While the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, famously said the UK would not ‘balance the books on the backs of the poor’, it appears Australia is trying to do just that.
- Don’t take this news lying down. Join the new campaign to Save Australian Aid now!
- For the clearest analysis you’ll find on Australia’s aid program, go to co-author Christopher Hoy’s blog Poverty Analysis.
Sources:World Bank 2015 <http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/world-development-indicators> IMF 2015 <http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2014/02/weodata/index.aspx> OECD 2015 <http://www.oecd.org/dac/stats/idsonline.htm>