The Gillard Government will increase Australia's Official Development Assistance (ODA) to a record $5.7 billion in 2013-14.
This is an increase of $513.4 million on 2012-13 and brings the aid budget to 0.37 per cent of gross national income (GNI).
"This is the highest the aid budget has been as a percentage of GNI in over twenty-five years and, in dollar terms, Australia's largest aid budget in history," Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr said.
Australia remains committed to increasing its aid budget to 0.5 per cent of GNI, however given substantial write-downs to Budget revenues, the Government will defer this target by one year, to 2017-18.
"We have seen great progress towards the Millennium Development Goals in our region, and Australia is committed to supporting these goals," Minister Carr said.
"But major challenges remain."
Around 900 million people in the Asia-Pacific still live in poverty and nearly 20 million boys and girls do not attend school.
"Stable neighbours with healthy and educated populations are good for Australia. It is in our trade, economic and security interests to provide aid," Minister Carr said.
The 2013-14 Budget continues to implement the Government's Comprehensive Aid Policy Framework which emphasises our focus on our neighbours. Over 85 per cent of Australia's country specific aid is delivered in the Asia-Pacific region.
New aid initiatives in the 2013-14 Budget include:
Enhancing Australia's Commitment to Development in the Asia Pacific Region
The Gillard Government has announced $390.9 million to support increased efforts to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in our region.
This funding will:
- Target malnutrition among women and children in the Asia-Pacific, providing over one million people with better access to food and improved nutrition;
- Lift universal education by supporting an additional 1.2 million children reach school; and
- Increase access to maternal and child health services for a further 900,000 women.
This funding demonstrates Australia's commitment to lead efforts in our region to fight poverty. This role has been acknowledged with the United Nation's Secretary General's invitation to Prime Minster Gillard to co-chair his MDG Advocacy Group.
Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI)
This initiative provides $498.9 million over the forward estimates to support Australia's continued commitment to RAMSI. Australia's assistance to this regional initiative will ensure ongoing support for the law and justice and governance sectors which from 1 July will form part of Australia's bilateral development assistance to Solomon Islands.
This initiative will also ensure that the Australian Federal Police are able to continue their contribution to RAMSI's Participating Police Force.
Joining the African Development Bank
This Budget provides funding for Australia to join the African Development Bank. Australia's contribution to the Bank will help to reduce poverty and to provide technical and financial assistance to encourage economic and social development in Africa.
Joining the African Development Bank was a recommendation of the Government's Independent Review of Aid Effectiveness.
Australia will continue to invest in international scholarships for students from developing countries with funding for around 6,000 Australia Awards Scholarships and Fellowships. Supported by the Australia Award Office, established on 1 January 2013, the Awards deliver on a key commitment made as part of the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper.
Contribution to IMF's Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust
Through this initiative, the Australian Government will make a payment of $50.6 million to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust. Australia's contribution will support the IMF's assistance to vulnerable, low income countries. The IMF promotes measures to mitigate the impact of crises on the most vulnerable in society.
Support to the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan
This initiative provides the Australian Federal Police $2.1 million over two years from 2013-14 to continue its participation in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. This mission aims to consolidate peace and security in the new republic. The AFP has contributed 10 members to the UN Police component of this program since 2011.
Combating People Smuggling – Enhancing the Regional Response
This initiative provides the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and the Attorney Generals Department a combined $65.8 million over the forward estimates to continue implementing key recommendations from the Houston Report on Asylum Seekers.
In addition, the Government will report funding for the basic needs for asylum seekers in Australia as ODA. This is consistent with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee's (DAC) Reporting Directives. It is practised by other developed country donors, such as Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.
To provide certainty for the aid budget, the Government will cap expenditure from the existing ODA funding envelope in any one year at $375 million.
"The Gillard Government remains committed to supporting our region," Minister Carr said.
"While we have deferred our 0.5 per cent of GNI target by a year, we are still providing a record amount in aid, over $500 million more than we did last year."
We're continuing to increase Australia's official development assistance while the opposition wants to slash spending on the region's most vulnerable.
The 2011-12 Annual Review of Aid Effectiveness released in January 2013 demonstrated that Australian aid is effective – that it represents value for money.
The Gillard Government is continuing to increase Australia's official development assistance while the Opposition wants to slash spending on the region's most vulnerable.
- Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7500
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