18 Oct 2010

Australian aid watchdog calls for urgent debate on spending

10:19 am on 18 October 2010

An organisation that analyses the impact of Australian aid to the Pacific is calling for urgent debate on how the money's spent.

The Australian Foreign Minister's advised his Papua New Guinea counterpart that the number of aid advisers to PNG will be cut by more than a third over the next two years.

PNG receives over 450 million US dollars a year in aid funding, almost half of which goes to nearly 500 technical advisers or contractors.

A campaigner for Aidwatch says cutting the number of advisers is a good step towards better use of aid money.

But Gary Lee says there must also be broader discussion within Australia on how aid is managed and delivered.

"I don't think many Australians actually realise that a significant proportion of our aid budget ends up in the hands of companies and contractors and advisers and thus diverting funds in areas where it is really needed such as the delivery of essential services and that was also acknowledged by Kevin Rudd when he was Prime Minister last year."

Gary Lee says the projected doubling of Australia's aid budget within the next five years makes debate on how it's spent even more important.