Australia must not balance the books on the backs of the poor

Australia must not balance the books on the backs of the poor

Australia cannot break the bi-partisan promise to those in extreme poverty in the upcoming federal budget.

Alarmed by recent reports that this is likely, the governing body of Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, has written to Prime Minister Gillard urging her Government not to break the promise.

The promise of reaching 0.5 per cent of national income by 2015 was reaffirmed by her Government, and the Opposition, ahead of the last election.

The UK Government, which has now entered a second recession, retains its commitment to increase its aid budget to 0.7 per cent, the agreed global target. The UK Government has repeatedly said it “will not balance the books on the backs of the poor.”

“The Australian Government, which is in a much better financial position than the UK, must also not balance the books on the backs of the poor. Our commitment to aid is needed if we are to do our fair share in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, including reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and eradicating preventable diseases,” said the Rev. Elenie Poulos, Chairperson of the Commission governing Act for Peace.

“Evidence continues to show that overseas aid has improved the wellbeing of millions of children in poor countries,” said Ms Poulos. Despite great progress, 20,000 children still die each day around the world because of diseases that can be easily prevented and treated, such as diarrhoea and malaria.

Reaching the 0.5 per cent target means just 50c in every $100 of our national income will go towards our aid program. It is a small price to pay though will make a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

Act for Peace has worked with partners in countries most affected by conflict and disaster to reduce poverty and build lasting peace for over 60 years and we see the life-changing impact of good aid and the devastating impact that broken promises can have.

Act for Peace

Act for Peace is the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia and a member of the global ACT Alliance. It empowers war-torn communities to reduce poverty, protect refugees, and prevent further conflict. Its project partners are currently assisting more than one million people in the world’s worst conflict affected areas, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Burma.

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