In a wide-ranging speech on the subject of international development, Labor’s foreign affairs spokesperson Penny Wong broadly committed the Opposition to rebuilding Australia’s aid budget, should they win the federal election in May.
Ms Wong highlighted $11 billion of cuts that the Coalition have made to the aid budget since coming to power in 2013.
“All of us who believe in a strong and generous Australia must push back and articulate why Australia’s international development programs matter; to the lives of those in our region, to our influence in our region, to our own national interest” Ms Wong said.
Ms Wong announced that a Shorten Labor Government would provide an additional $32 million for the Pacific avoidable blindness and vision loss fund, to help clear a backlog of cataract patients in the region.
Wong also said that Labor would increase annual base grant funding for NGOs that are part of the Australian NGO Cooperation Program, by $32 million over the forward estimates.
Despite the announced increases, Ms Wong admitted that the Labor Party would be unable to fully repair the aid budget, casting blame on the government’s cuts over a number of years.
Micah Australia welcomed the announcements.
Tim Costello is Micah Australia’s CEO. Rev. Costello said that the organisation is hoping that the Morrison Coalition Government will also commit to rebuilding Australia’s aid budget, making the policy bipartisan.
“We need strong moral leadership on both side of politics, because not only is aid the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do,” Rev. Costello said.
As part of the lead up to the federal election, Micah Australia is hosting a candidate forum in the seat of Warringah.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor