Changes to aid budget ‘steal from the poor to punish the vulnerable’
Uniting Church people across Australia are being urged to complain to their parliamentary representatives about the Government’s decision to divert foreign aid from alleviating poverty overseas to pay for processing asylum seekers in Australia.
“In complete contradiction to the Christmas spirit, the Government is stealing from the poor to support a system that punishes the vulnerable,” said UnitingWorld National Director the Rev. Dr Kerry Enright.
“Aid is for saving lives and Australia has been active in doing so. But this is the second time this year the Gillard Government has backed away from this priority — the first was when it delayed lifting aid to 0.5% of GDP.
“Asylum seekers need support but to use aid is a cynical diversion of funds,” Mr Enright said. “It’s aimed at making it look like an increase in overseas aid funding, when it isn’t.”
The President of the Uniting Church in Australia, the Rev. Professor Andrew Dutney, has spoken out against the decision.
“To divert funding from Australia’s commitment to support people overcoming poverty overseas to balance the books is simply unacceptable,” said Professor Dutney.
“The Uniting Church in Australia has a long history of standing beside vulnerable people and through UnitingWorld, its international partnerships agency, works alongside international church partners to address systems that perpetuate poverty and injustice.
“This decision undermines that good work.”
The President and National Director of UnitingWorld also added their voices to those calling on the Government to act with integrity and generosity.
They said, “We join with UnitingWorld, other Australian churches and aid agencies in calling on the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to honour their responsibilities as global citizens and uphold their promise to alleviate poverty.”