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Australian aid and values crucial to Australia's foreign policy

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull along with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Steven Ciobo have today launched Australia’s Foreign Affairs White Paper, outlining Australia’s foreign policy priorities for the coming years.

Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Australian Council for International Development, Joanna Pradela, said:

“We welcome the Government’s recognition that Australia’s values are the foundation on which our global engagement rests and are a vital piece of our influence in the world.

“The White Paper acknowledges that through the aid program Australia has a global role in responding to humanitarian crises, building peace, tackling climate change, and creating a world free from extreme poverty.

“We welcome the increase in humanitarian funding to $500million a year, and are pleased to see the Government’s continued prioritisation of gender equality and women’s rights within Australia’s aid program. We also welcome the Government’s recommitment to multilateral agreements such as the Paris Agreement on climate change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“However, this recognition of how our aid program contributes to delivering on the overall goals of our global engagement needs to come with a revitalisation of resources for its implementation. We need to rebuild the funding for Australia’s aid program to bring it in line with our global commitments and commensurate with our status as a wealthy nation.

“We won’t be able to meet our priorities, as outlined in the White Paper, if we don’t lift our aid budget from its current, historic-low level.”

“The focus on global cooperation in the white paper is welcome. The importance of shaping the rules and norms of global governance--as well as living by those rules-- and the vital support we can provide in reducing global poverty and responding to humanitarian crises are all acknowledged in the White Paper.

“The concept of sovereignty and borders get a much stronger look-in than people and individuals and the kinds of security they require to prosper. The White Paper speaks to many of the major challenges facing Australia over the next decade—such as disease pandemics, climate change and rapidly entrenching inequality. However, these challenges will not be stopped by robust militaries or stronger borders. Going forward, we hope to see a much stronger connection to a broader human security agenda.

“NGOs, as acknowledged in the White Paper, are vital partners in achieving greater prosperity and security in our region. We bring a human security lens to that partnership and look forward to continuing our work with the Australian Government to strengthen the role of Australia’s international development program in Australia’s global engagement.”

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