Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 21 April 2013
Late last year the federal government diverted $375 million from overseas aid to help meet the rising costs of detaining, processing, and supporting onshore asylum-seekers.
This diversion of seven per cent of the total aid budget has already had an impact. Australia’s contribution to the life-saving work of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria was cut by $10 million. Programs to help vulnerable communities to adapt to climate change have been axed.
Water, sanitation and hygiene programs, maternal and child health, education and livelihood programs have been delayed or “deferred”. Every region and every area of Australia’s aid program handed over part of its budget to help send asylum seekers offshore.
These are the actions of a deeply cynical and ethically bankrupt government, and the May federal budget is set to rip even more aid away. Politicians need to know that this is wrong, and you and I need to stand up and tell them so.
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.