AUSAID IS NO MORE; it has gone, been axed, daipinis, kaput.
Yesterday the Australian government’s aid agency was merged with its parent Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
AusAID had been in operation for 40 years. Its record was mixed.
It got the aid money spent all right, but how effectively it did it was often a matter of controversy.
Boomerang aid; sloughing off huge amounts of money to consultants; funding fuzzy projects which never seemed to get anywhere; showing a disdain for little projects that might have a big effect because they were, er, little….
There’s more. A big one was early in AusAID’s history when it killed off the International Training Institute, the one organisation in Australia that was building great relationships with emerging managers in developing countries.
I suppose AusAID will be missed by some – mainly the big aid contractors and academics, who found in AusAID a willing donor to conferences, studies and reports.
AusAID was first established as the Australian Development Assistance Agency (ADAA) in 1973, then it became ADAB agency became AusAID in 1995. Labor took it away from DFAT and made it an executive agency in 2010.
But it was all alphabet soup really. Whatever it was called, it always seemed to be struggling with its role.
The merger with DFAT seems likely to cost a lot of public servants their jobs and deny a lot of consultants their fees.
It will also, some people reckon, strip the aid budget of over a billion dollars a year.
You’d feel a lot worse about that if you believed that AusAID had been a fine organisation doing a good job.
There are not many people who weren’t on its teat who’d be prepared to go that far.
It will not be missed.