In 2007, following widespread campaigns by Micah Challenge and Make Poverty History, Labor and the Coalition committed to lifting Australia’s levels of Official Development Assistance to 0.5% of Gross National Income (GNI). The Gillard Government reiterated this commitment in the 2010 election as well as in the Government’s response to the Aid effectiveness Review in 2011.
There are serious concerns, however, that the Government will go back on this commitment in the upcoming Federal Budget, to be released May 8. If this occurs, it is likely that the Coalition would also abandon the bipartisan commitment to 0.5%.
The Australian Council for International Development, the peak body for aid charities, yesterday released an open letter to the Prime Minister – signed by more than 100 prominent Australians – calling on her to ensure next week’s budget does not break our promise on aid.
Uniting Church in Australia President, Rev Alistair Macrae, has signed the open letter, along with Synod Moderators, the Administrator of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress as well as the National Director, Rev Dr Kerry Enright, and Chairperson, Mr Malcolm Gledhill, of UnitingWorld.
Church leaders from all over the Nation are also on board, with leaders from across denominations concerned about the effects of Australia backing away from our promise to the world’s poorest people.
Signatories to the letter also include well known entertainers, politicians, business leaders and community sector representatives. For a full list of signatories see the open letter.
“The aid that Australia sends overseas makes a real difference in the lives of the world’s poorest,” says Rob Floyd, Associate Director of UnitingWorld Relief and Developmen. “In uncertain economic times, it is often these people who suffer most. UnitingWorld continues to strongly support the bipartisan commitment to increase our overseas aid budget to 0.5% GNI by 2015-2016. We will not decrease our commitment to the world’s poor, and we trust the Government will not decrease its commitment either.”