18 Apr 2017

Australia urged to renew aid focus in new foreign policy

11:04 am on 18 April 2017

World Vision is calling on the Australian government to re-assert the role of aid in its upcoming 10 year foreign policy strategy.

The call comes after new aid data released by the OECD showed Australia slipping from 16th to 17th among the 29 wealthy OECD nations that provide aid.

At 0.22 percent of national income Australia's international aid budget is the lowest in its history.

But World Vision Australia's chief advocate Tim Costello said the upcoming foreign policy whitepaper is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change that.

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Tim Costello says Australia has a chance to change their approach to aid Photo: flickr

"I think most Australians if they think about it for a minute know that if you cut development in a world that is a water bed, refugees losing hope will come here," Mr Costello said.

"You can't even deal with global epidemics and global financial crises with a drawbridge mentality of turning inwards and re-tribalising. So that is the hope I have that at least this white paper will actually realise this."

He said despite this, there were some in parliament who thought it should be cut altogether.

But Mr Costello said aid was also good for Australia as a major trading nation.

"When we cut aid by 40 percent in Myanmar in a growing market. Britain didn't cut it, their aid, China didn't cut it.

"Now you tell me is it going to be Australian businesses or Chinese or British businesses that get contracts in Myanmar," he said.

"Enlightened self interest absolutely says as an export trading nation we need to be keeping our promises in development."