IN A RECENTLY released poll on Australia’s overseas aid program, the Lowy Institute says that AusAID states the aim of the program is to ‘assist developing countries reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development’.
The poll reports the results of a nationally representative opinion survey of 1,001 adults conducted from 6-21 March this year.
So let’s look at this report card on AusAID’s achievements in PNG.
Nearly half the people surveyed (48%) said we should be doing more.
Asked whether the government is currently giving too much, too little or about the right amount of aid to developing countries, 55% said about the right amount while 22% said it was giving too much and 19% said too little.
Australians 45 years old or older were much more likely than younger Australians to say the government is giving too much aid (29% compared with 8%). Men were also more likely to say this than women (26% compared with 17%).
Presented with four possible objectives for Australia's overseas aid program, the highest level of support (those saying it was a top priority) was for reducing poverty (58%) followed by improving the quality of government' (53%), promoting economic development (49%) and promoting Australian interests (42%).
PNG - the largest recipient of Australian aid - continues to suffer from serious development and security problems. Asked whether Australia should be doing more, doing less or about the same as it is doing now in PNG, 48% of people said it should be doing more while 42% said about the same and 6% said less.
The Lowy poll suggests Australians have a streak of altruism when it comes to foreign policy. This year, for example, Australians placed reducing poverty ahead of promoting Australian interests as a top priority for aid.
But how moral do they think Australian foreign policy is compared to other countries? Nearly 60% said it was about average and 14% said it was below average.