While announcing a welcome increase of $315 million to the 2012-2013 budget, Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr confirmed Australia would no longer meet its promise that 0.5 per cent of Gross National Income would be spent on foreign aid; a commitment it made as part of globally supported Millennium Development Goals.
“This budget of $5.2 billion will go a long way and a lot of people will receive assistance and their lives will be changed,” Caritas Australia CEO, Jack de Groot, said.
“But while these are not the easiest of economic times, Australia does have the capacity to help hundreds of thousands more people if we want to.”
Mr de Groot said Australia’s historical efforts to end global poverty were proof that our generosity could change the lives of the poorest of the poor forever.
“We are making genuine inroads on the injustice of world poverty. Families now have food, communities have incomes, mothers have access to maternal health services and children now have an education and hope,” Mr de Groot said.
Mr de Groot said this was thanks, in part, to a greater working relationship between AusAID and aid and development agencies and this is a time to reinforce that relationship.
“We would like Australians to understand that they have been responsible for changing the lives of countless men, women and children through their generous commitment to helping those in need both personally during major natural disasters and also through federally-funded programs that change lives in the long term,” Mr de Groot said.
“But in perspective, this budget potentially leaves us behind other comparable nations including the United Kingdom which is in the grip of an economic crisis. In spite of this instability, the UK has committed to reach the MDGs.
“We are considered to be enjoying one of the healthiest global economies, so we need to be leading the push to address injustice and poverty, not following.”
The Pacific, South Asia and humanitarian responses were flagged as major focal points by the Government.