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Thursday 24 Aug 2017 | 07:33 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Abbott's speech

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This post is part of the Australian aid to Africa debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

COMMENTS

27 April 2010 09:29


This post is part of the Australian aid to Africa debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

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.

I'm slightly surprised by Andrew's reaction to Abbott's comments on aid to Africa. There's no debating that the need is real in Africa, but that's clearly true of our region too. And given the persistent fear that our Africa spending is motivated by the Government's bid for a UN Security Council seat, isn't Oxfam concerned that the modest contributions we do make to Africa are misallocated toward headline-making projects rather than long-term development? 

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