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Stop-start aid budget fails to match scale of global challenges

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ACFID has called for the Government to put stability first after the introduction of a stop-start aid budget which fails to match-up to the reality of global challenges, like climate change, food crises and the insecurity faced by displaced people.

The Australian aid budget as a percentage of national income has fallen to new historic lows, with spending of just 22 cents in every 100 dollars (AUD) in 2017-18, remaining on a downward trajectory to 20 cents in every $100 by 2020-21.

Despite aid keeping up with inflation over the next two years, the Government plans to freeze the budget for the following two.

Commenting following the publication of ACFID’s official budget analysis CEO of the Australian Council for International Development, Marc Purcell, said:

“Inflation is in for two years and then out for two. While this might be described as a temporary reprieve, overall there will be $303m (AUD) worth of cuts over those four years. This isn’t good for aid and development programs which are most effective when funding is predictable and stable.

“This budget fails to do justice to who we are as a compassionate nation and what we have to offer the world – our people, our expertise and our position as a prosperous country who can offer a helping hand.

“The Government has struggled to sustain their commitments in this area and we call on them to set out how we will reach the target Australia has signed up to – 0.7% of gross national income by 2030.”

ACFID has welcomed an increase in total humanitarian funding by $60m (AUD) over the next year, as well as the prioritisation of child protection in humanitarian programs.

“The stress on the global humanitarian response system is severe, so this funding increase is welcome. It’s the biggest win in this budget. Over the long-term, we will need a continued growth in emergency funds to be able to adequately respond to the rising human cost of disasters and conflicts.”

The Government has stuck to its plans for gender and innovation, with allocations remaining steady. A commitment to $9.5m (AUD) over three years for sexual and reproductive health programs in crises has also been welcomed.

The budget indicates a small growth for funding to Sub-Saharan Africa. However, ACFID has emphasised the need for Australia to fully re-engage beyond humanitarian funding to realise the potential of our relationships with Africa.

Despite these announcements, Australia’s generosity is dropping and there are other areas of concern for the peak-body.

ACFID’s analysis has revealed that funding for the Government’s partnership with accredited Australian aid and development NGOs will fall in real terms over the next year.

“Despite an independent evaluation finding that partner NGOs delivered 18% of results for the aid program for 2.7% of the total budget, the Government has not honoured its commitment to strengthen aid efforts with NGOs.”

On funding to tackle climate change, the Government has fallen short of its fair-share.

“Australia co-led the development of the ‘Roadmap to $100bn' by 2020 (USD) for climate change adaptation and mitigation, and leads the Green Climate Fund, but the Government is falling significantly short. We are looking for the Government to increase this funding significantly in the coming year to $600m (AUD).”