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Time for Joe Hockey to honour his words and stand up for the world’s poor

Eloise Todd, International Advocacy Director of the ONE campaign, and Shobaz Kandola, Global Poverty Project Australian Country Director, have called on Treasurer Joe Hockey to immediately reconsider cuts to Australia’s foreign aid budget announced in Tuesday’s budget.

Australian Governments from both sides of politics have long been leaders on assistance to the developing world. This leadership was shown by Treasurer Hockey at his first World Bank Annual Meeting in October last year where he endorsed the World Bank’s goal of ending extreme poverty. Mr Hockey stated:

At the Spring Meetings, the ambitious goals of eliminating extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity were agreed. Realising these goals will involve a virtuous cycle where people are better off and we all benefit from countries that are stronger, more resilient, more inclusive and more productive. But these goals, with their prospect of a more prosperous future for the world, will be meaningless unless the strategy is actively pursued to achieve them.

“Dramatically reducing the foreign aid budget walks away from this commitment as well assurances given to the Australian people” both Ms Todd and Mr Kandola said.

“This budget amounts to a set of broken promises. It lets down Australians but more importantly it hurts the world’s poorest people,” said Ms Todd.

“A $7.6 billion shrinks the aid budget to less than 0.29 per cent of Gross National Income. It makes it harder for the aid budget to reach 0.5 per cent of GNI – a goal that the Liberal National Parties committed to at last year’s election.”

“The Government has unfairly targeted foreign aid. Foreign aid accounts for less than 1.5 per cent of the Federal Budget yet it accounted for 20 per cent of the savings,” said Mr Kandola.

“The cuts announced mean the real value of aid will plummet to its lowest value in recent times. The Government is not pausing on aid commitments, it’s reversing them.”

Both Mr Kandola and Ms Todd said “there is a clear road map to ending extreme poverty by 2030. We are the first generation that can end extreme poverty on our planet, resulting in a more prosperous world for everyone, including Australians. However, what is required is the political will. Australian aid is important to achieving this. Australian aid is recognised as being amongst the most effective in the world, and is needed if this goal is going to be achieved.”

As host of the G20 later this year, the global spotlight will be on the Government in Canberra. The foreshadowed Government statement on aid and development is a chance for Mr Hockey and the Government to recommit to Australia’s best traditions and its national interest in sustained international development.

Media Contacts

Global Poverty Project

Shobaz Kandola: +1 917 402 6224 or [email protected]

ONE Campaign

Eloise Todd: +32 495 323507 or [email protected]