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Sunday 18 Feb 2018 | 14:06 | SYDNEY
Sunday 18 Feb 2018 | 14:06 | SYDNEY

Blogging Australia\'s aid program



6 January 2011 16:33

On 12 January, the Lowy Institute will launch a new blog — 'Interpreting the Aid Review'. We hope Interpreter readers will click across to read the latest on what Australia's aid program should look like and what issues the aid review team should focus on. If you want to influence the discussion on Australia's aid policy, we encourage you to take advantage of this unique opportunity and submit a post to be considered for publication.

The Australian Government has established an independent panel to undertake a review on the future direction of Australia's aid program. The review started in November 2010 and is due to be completed by April of this year. The aid program is undergoing some must-be-discussed changes, the headline grabbing element being that the aid budget is set to double from $4.3 billion to $8-9 billion by 2015-16. This means the aid budget will reach 0.5% of Australia's Gross National Income by 2015-16, an increase that currently enjoys bipartisan support.

It is important to dwell on 'currently', as no promise is concrete in politics. It is likely that the aid program will reach this $8-9 billion figure, but a stream of bad press could weaken this stance by a number of political parties.

Other big changes in Australia's aid policy include a big shift in geographical disbursement – more aid to Africa and expanding the aid program to Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, there has been increasing discussion concerning the policy guiding the doubling of the aid program, with greater media attention than ever before on the 'how', 'where' and 'why'.

I would like to see the geographical direction of Australia's aid program heavily debated. I am increasingly confused as to why Australian aid is being channeled far beyond the Asia Pacific towards Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Latin America and the Caribbean. It is difficult not to assume that there are other forces at play besides development and poverty alleviation. I hope this will be one of many issues tackled on 'Interpreting the Aid Review' and I am certainly open to taking in other points of view and changing my mind.

The expectations of this review are huge. The review panel has an extremely short time to set a roadmap for the aid program. It will have to take into account public submissions, and we certainly hope they will be keeping a very close eye on our new blog, and contribute when they have the time.

It is important to note that Interpreting the Aid Review is a Lowy Institute initiative co-funded by AusAID and the Myer Foundation, both of whom encouraged us to build a comments section into this new blog.

There will be a number of new posts a week and we would like to see contributions from civil society, multilateral organisations, research organisations & academia, government, media and interested members of the public. Anonymous posts will be considered.

The Lowy Institute editorial team will consider every post received on content, quality, and relevance. For a handy head-start on what Australia's aid program looks like, read this blog post from ANU's development policy blog, which looks at seven patterns and trends in Australian aid. Another useful resource is the Australian Development Gateway. On request, a handy 'cheat sheet' can be made available to potential bloggers, which runs through much of the discussion that has occurred in 2010 on Australia's aid program.

Through this new blog, the Lowy Institute is aiming to encourage, stimulate and contribute to discussion on Australia's aid program. The aid program forms an increasingly important part of Australia's overall foreign policy, and as such, Australia's place and role in the world. The new blog is intended to influence the findings of the aid review and the policy guiding the future of the aid program.

We hope you will watch this space from 12 January. 

Submit a blog post in the usual Interpreter format (under 700 words) to Dcave@lowyinstitute.org. We encourage you to be constructive and creative.

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