That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Finance (Senator Cormann) to a question without notice asked by Senator Rhiannon today relating to overseas development aid.
The response from Senator Cormann representing the Treasurer was deeply disturbing. He failed to address the question which adds to the concern that has grown since we heard the comments yesterday from the Treasurer, Mr Hockey, when he was appearing on Sky News. He said:
Senator RHIANNON(New South Wales) (20:44): On another matter, the world's three major pandemics—AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria—cause an enormous amount of death and disability, generally striking those in the most productive years of their lives as well those who are the most vulnerable.
The Greens say the Coalition government's plan for overseas aid announced today is reminiscent of the discredited aid policies of the 1980s with Australian companies set to profit at the expense of impoverished communities in the Asia Pacific region.
"Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has corporatised Australia's overseas aid program to such a degree it could cost lives, while opening the door to corrupt practices," said Greens aid spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon.
Australian Greens spokesperson for international aid and development Senator Lee Rhiannon says the Coalition’s $7.6 billion budget cuts over five years to overseas aid is shaping up as the cruellest part of the budget as it impacts directly on the world’s poor.
This piece was first published by the The Big Smoke on 1 April 2014.
The Abbott government’s downgrading of action on climate change combined with the savage cuts to the Australian foreign aid budget are set to significantly increase the levels of poverty and the hardship that millions of our neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region live through on a daily basis.
The Coalition requirement that aid programs deliver for Australia’s national interest instead of poverty alleviation is also driving down the effectiveness of our overseas development work.
Lee highlights the work of Publish What You Pay, designed to improve the transparency of extractive industries by having them report how much of their income goes back into the communities in which they operate.
The Greens believe that Australia, as a wealthy nation, has a responsibility to contribute our ‘fair share’ to poverty alleviation in less developed countries and devote 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income to overseas aid.
Australia’s spending on aid should also be transparent and accountable and aid projects should not be harmful for local communities or the environment. The key purpose driving the Australian aid program should be alleviating poverty.
Subscribe to the GreensMps Newsletter
Authorised by Richard Di Natale, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT 2600