What's happening at the
Monday 21 Aug 2017 | 22:24 | SYDNEY
Monday 21 Aug 2017 | 22:24 | SYDNEY
Debates

Australian aid to Africa

27 Apr 2010 09:29

Andrew Hewett, Executive Director of Oxfam Australia, writes:

One element of Tony Abbott's speech on foreign policy which has received little attention was his pledge that the 'Coalition would match the government's commitments on overseas aid' — that is, to increase spending to 0.5% of Gross National Income by 2015/16.

This is good news but also puts the onus on the Coalition (and for that matter the Government) to clearly outline how the increased spending — essentially a doubling of the current budget of approximately $4 billion — would be directed. Mr Abbott's only comment on the future direction of the aid program was to signal a reduction of spending on Africa. This is regrettable; the need remains on that continent and Australia has much to contribute, and anyway Australia only spends 4.3% of its overall aid program on Africa.

It's to be hoped that Mr Abbott and his Foreign Affairs (and International Development) spokesperson Ms Julie Bishop step up to the plate in the coming months with a detailed aid and development policy.

COMMENTS

27 Apr 2010 15:33

Joel Negin is a Research Fellow at the Menzies Centre for Health Policy and co-author of a Lowy Institute Policy Brief on Australian aid to Africa.

Sam notes the 'persistent fear' that the Government is only increasing interest in and funding to Africa in order to win a Security Council seat. This 'fear' has been promulgated by a small number of commentators including those at the Lowy Institute and, yes, those comments have made headlines. But those commentators can't have it both ways — creating headlines by accusing the Government of focusing on Africa only for Security Council votes; and then turning around and saying that the aid to Africa is mis-allocated because it creates headlines. 

COMMENTS

4 May 2010 10:54

As one of those at the Lowy Institute who has claimed Australian aid to Africa is motivated by Australia's bid for a temporary seat at the UN Security Council in 2013-14, I feel compelled by Joel Negin's post to explain my thinking.

DFAT's own promotional brochure for its UNSC candidature claims Australia is an active partner in global efforts to realise the Millennium Development Goals. Progress in achieving the MDGs is slowest in sub-Saharan Africa, so if Australia wants to be recognised by the international community as a player in eradicating poverty, it has to increase the visibility of its aid efforts in Africa.

Australia increased aid to Africa by over 40% to an estimated $165.2 million in 2009-10. The Rudd Government has indicated Africa will benefit from its scaling up of the aid program towards an ultimate target of 0.5 per cent of GNI by 2015-16. 

COMMENTS

7 May 2010 12:22

Australia’s delivery of aid, and in particular, the motivation behind Australia’s increasing aid to Africa has received a bit of attention on The Interpreter this past fortnight. Debating Australia’s increasing aid funding to Africa is a difficult one as the opportunity cost of giving increasing amounts of aid there means less is going towards our neighbours in the Asia-Pacific.

The needs of Africa are enormous and are being served by an almost equally enormous swarm of country donors, multilateral donors, NGOs, the private sector and philanthropists (aka Bill Gates and Bono).

There is always room for more assistance but I am not confident AusAID could be the nimble and responsive player Joel Negin suggests.  Last year’s Australian National Audit Office report indicated otherwise.

A UN Security Council bid certainly muddies the waters and confuses the potential positive impact with the ethical motivations behind its aid.

COMMENTS