30 May 2007

Australia rejects claims that much of its foreign aid doesen't qualify as aid

7:23 am on 30 May 2007

The Australian Government is strongly rejecting claims that much of its foreign aid spending doesn't qualify as aid.

Australia's Parliamentary Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Greg Hunt, says the claims by aid monitoring group, Aidwatch, are both wrong, and odd.

Aidwatch says around a billion Australian dollars in the past year went on debt relief for Iraq or for scholarships and policing, and it says this money should go into health and education.

But Mr Hunt says such spending is a vital aspect of the provision of aid.

He says in the past Aidwatch has strongly pushed for governments to give debt relief and Australia has been proud to do just that.

"If you help a country overcome its debt relief it means that its not spending 2 or 3 billion dollars a year on interest payments to overseas governments, so you don't help it for one year, you help it for every year going forward, and that means it can spend its money on hospitals, schools, on primary education, on maternal health care on HIV/AIDs prevention programmes."