AS you might expect, the Australian media is preoccupied this week with what the 2015 national budget means for us Australians.
From where I sit, it seems that working mums take a hit, small business gets a big benefit and the big end of town does what it likes as usual. But what about the development aid budget?
Australia currently spends more than $5 billion dollars on foreign aid – that’s 0.32% of our gross national income, one of the lowest figures in the western world.
The recent budget reduces this even further.
Aid for Pacific nations such as Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu falls by $43 million to $911 million.
Not so long ago Julie Bishop asked us to contribute to her thoughts on aid in the Asia-Pacific and this is the response.
Maverick senator Jacquie Lambie says Australia should cut all foreign aid and spend the money on Australians instead. Australia is well on the way to doing this.
Aid to Papua New Guinea dropped by 5% from A$502 million to A$477 million, a cool $25 million not going to health, education or law and order.
That said, though, in a context of a 40% cut, PNG has emerged as the new No 1 beneficiary of Australian aid, taking over from Indonesia.
Our aid to Indonesia has been cut by 40%.
“There is no problem with that,” said Hikmahanto Juwana, international law professor at the University of Indonesia.
“We’re not dependent on Australia’s aid. It is their right to give aid. It is their right to stop it.”
Marc Purcell, director at the Australian Council for International Development, told Fairfax Media that the new budget was “very, very short-sighted.”
Hard to argue with that.