World’s poor foot the bill for Budget repairs

I am appalled that the Australian Government has transferred the bill for our nation’s debt burden to the world’s poor.Yes, to the world’s poor! May God have mercy on Australia!

We, Australia, are a wealthy nation and while we need to reduce our expenditure we should not be reducing it to the last and the least of the poor.

At the judgement of the nations, the righteous will answer the king, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?  And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?  And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’  And (Jesus) the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ (Matthew25:37-40)

Merciful God, open Australia’s head and heart of generosity to the poor. Change this destructive policy in this Budget to a policy of care for the world’s poor. In the name of Jesus Christ who exhorts us to this generosity, compassion and justice. Amen.

The Media Release from World Vision Australia (of which I am a Director) collects up a fuller response which articulates my response as a Bishop of the Church, although this is not a new area of concern for me re our previous Australian Government also failing the world’s poor: Australia’s obligation to the poor.

Further cuts to Australia’s foreign aid budget mean Australia’s overseas development assistance is contributing more savings than any other sector to the budget repair job, World Vision Australia said today.

“After receiving repeated reassurances that the aid and development budget would increase by CPI, the Budget papers reveal a freeze of the aid budget for the next two years,” World Vision Australia CEO Tim Costello said.

“This represents a cut in real terms, and it will see a steady decline in the generosity of the aid program – both as a proportion of national income, and as a proportion of government expenditure.

“It is disheartening to see that the poorest people in the world will foot the bill for Australia’s fiscal repairs,” Mr Costello said.

Mr Costello said that while Australia was facing some fiscal challenges, the burden should not fall heavily on programs which assist the world’s most vulnerable, including many of our closest neighbours.

“Of the major savings identified in the Budget forward estimates, more than 20 per cent comes from foreign aid – the biggest single contribution of any category.

“Australians are by nature generous people – this is demonstrated by strong support for charities and a huge range of community groups making up our strong civil society, which makes this budget completely out of step with Australians’ own sense of responsibility to those less well off than us.”

The Budget papers reveal the total slashed from the aid budget over five years is now estimated at $7.6 billion.

The two-year freeze in the aid budget follows both sides of politics gutting the total aid budget and diverting aid funds to meet domestic asylum-seeker costs.

As a percentage of GNI, the foreign aid budget will decline from 0.33 per cent in the current financial year, to 0.29 per cent in 2017-18.

“Peace and prosperity across our region is in our country’s best interest and a well-targeted and effective aid program is an important contributor to this goal.

“Our overseas aid program delivers a stunning level of human benefit per dollar spent.”

Mr Costello said World Vision acknowledged the Government’s commitment to prioritising economic development, and welcomed recognition of the key role played by education, health and empowering women and girls, in enabling sustainable economic growth.

“Australia is well-placed to be a global leader in this year when we hold the G20 Presidency,” Mr Costello said. “It’s critical for our nation to embrace our global responsibilities and set other nations an example of good global citizenship.”

World Vision looks forward to the release of the Government’s aid policy statement, performance benchmarks and detailed country and sectoral funding breakdown, which will be crucial for meeting the Government’s commitment to delivering an effective and transparent aid program.

Media contact: Mary-Louise O’Callaghan – 0427 413 816 /


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