For broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 19 May 2013.
Australia’s foreign aid budget is less than 1.5 per cent of the total federal budget, but it does an enormous amount of good in helping people escape from poverty and in rendering our region more stable, secure and prosperous.
Our aid goes into building education and health systems, establishing sustainable infrastructure, and supporting stronger judicial and governmental institutions, all of which contribute to conditions favourable to economic growth.
The good news in Tuesday’s federal budget is that foreign aid was increased by $518 million, when other government programs were being cut, bringing total aid this year to $5.7 billion, its highest level as a proportion of national income since 1985.
The bad news is that $375 million of this aid will be used for processing onshore asylum seekers, making Australia the third largest recipient of its own aid, after Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. As a wealthy country, Australia can do much better.
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.