The federal Opposition has promised to increase Australia’s foreign aid budget if elected at the election on Saturday, 18 March.
The increase is valued at $1.6 billion over four years.
Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen said that Labor would, “[I]ncrease it every year, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of gross national income.”
The Australian Labor Party platform includes a commitment to increase aid over time to 0.5 percent of gross national income. The Labor announcement does not restore all of the money cut from the aid budget and does not set a timeline to reach the long-term aspiration.
Australia’s aid budget has been the subject of protracted
campaigning, with churches and Christian churches advocating on behalf of the
world’s poorest for an adequate level of funding.
The Morrison Liberal Government has frozen the level of funding, but previously suggested that it would increase aid once the federal budget returns to surplus. The government has accused Labor of not properly accounting for the aid commitment, alongside its other “very expensive promises.”
Micah Australia’s Matt Darvas welcomed the funding proposal.
“Labor has heard the
voice of thousands of Australians who believe we can and must do more to love
our poorest neighbour,” Mr Darvas said.
“Australian Aid literally saves lives. It immunises children, it empowers women and it prepares communities for resilience in natural disasters.”
“This announcement shows that Labor understands that a strong aid budget is not just the right thing to do morally, it’s also the smart thing in that it strengthens key geopolitical relationships, stimulates trade with developing economies in the region and ensures peace and stability through greater cooperation.”
Micah Australia are hoping the proposed increase will receive broader support, making it bipartisan.
“We are looking forward to engaging the Coalition further in seeking to make this a bipartisan agreement and commitment to the world’s poor from the people of Australia,” Mr Darvas said.
The 2019 Australian federal election takes place on Saturday, 18 March.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor