August 6 2013
Micah Challenge and Make Poverty History together expressed their deep dissatisfaction at todayâs announcement that the Coalition plans to cut a further $4.5 billion from the aid budget, representing a broken promise to the global poor.
Micah Challengeâs initial estimates suggest that Australiaâs aid under the Coalition is now set to slide backwards from a projected 0.37% Gross National Income this year to 0.32% (GNI) over the next four years.
âWeâre extremely disappointed to see that both parties are so preoccupied with budget cuts that they seem to have ignored the voices of the Australian people, and more significantly, have disregarded the costs this will have in terms of human lives. We estimate this $4.5 billion could save 450,000 lives,â said John Beckett, National Coordinator of Micah Challenge Australia.
In todayâs announcement, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey confirmed the $4.5 billion cut to pay for domestic infrastructure projects (particularly road building) if they are elected to Government on Saturday.
âDespite having committed the Coalition to increasing aid to 0.5% of Gross National Income (GNI), Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey are asking our poorest neighbours and the worldâs poorest people to bear the brunt of their election âsavings’,” said Mr Beckett.
âWe strongly reject the notion that a wealthy nation like Australia cannot afford to meet its international commitments to the poorest people in the world, who are dying daily from preventable causes, while also investing in growth for Australia.â
âMr Hockey refused to give a timeline and even refused to make a commitment to ramping up foreign aid if we return to surplus. A commitment without a timetable is no commitment at all.â
Make Poverty History co-chair and Oaktree CEO Viv Benjamin said that young Australians care about global poverty and Abbottâs cuts are a slap in the face of the concerns of young voters.
âThis issue goes beyond party politics; we know that extreme poverty is a matter of life and death. Australian aid saves lives,â Ms Benjamin said.
After 21 years of uninterrupted economic growth, both major parties can and must keep their long-standing promise to increase aid to fight global poverty.
âAbbottâs aid cuts are unjustifiable in Australia, one of the richest countries in the world. Our community is proud that Australian aid saves lives, educates millions of children, and alleviates global poverty,â Ms Benjamin said.
Voters are invited to show their support by joining with over 85,000 other Australians in signing the Movement to End Poverty petition at: www.movementtoendpoverty.org.au
For interviews with Make Poverty History Co-Chair Viv Benjamin please contact M: Â 0416 051 357
For interviews with Micah Challengeâs National Coordinator, John Beckett, please contact Angela Owen M: 0422 985 288