//
you're reading...
Australian Current Affairs

Asia-Pacific watching foreign aid in Australia’s budget


Australian Foreign AidForeign aid spending remains the biggest issue for the Asia-Pacific region in the wake of Tuesday’s Australian budget.

Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan says he’s delivered a sensible, calm and responsible budget, while reporting an $18 billion deficit next financial year.

The budget delivers big social benefits for schools and the disabled, but hits foreign aid and experts say delivers little for some parts of the region.

Mr Swan has made $43 billion dollars in savings, while still delivering the two key Labor legacies – the national disability insurance scheme, Disability Care and the national school reforms.

Disability Care will get $14.3 billion over the next seven years, and there’s confirmation of the previously announced increase to the Medicare Levy from July 2014.

There’s $9.8 billion in funding over six years for the school reforms, some from previously announced savings in the higher education budget.

There is also $3 billion in funding for roads, rail and ports.

Wayne Swan says the big ticket reforms are long term and historic.

“It’s a huge change for Australia – we know from the Asian Century White Paper and other reports that we’re falling behind when it comes to the education race,” he said.

“That’s not just a matter of social outcomes – that’s a matter of economics.”

Aid delays

The detail of the additional delay to reaching the foreign aid spending target was released on Monday to soften the blow.

The target date to reach 0.5 per cent of gross national income has been delayed by a year to 2017-18, a measure that is expected to save $1.9 billion over the forward estimates.

$750 million in aid is now being diverted to pay for onshore asylum seekers costs.

Professor Stephen Howes from the Australian National University says aid money is still increasing, but not by as much as promised, which he says is the best outcome in the current economic environment.

“It is big win for the aid program because it is a 10 per cent increase, or half-a-billion dollars,” he said.

“That’s a big increase in a tough fiscal environment.”

But Professor Howes is concerned about the longer term picture.

“The aid program has some serious problems because there’s so much uncertainty about future targets,” he said.

“Clearly that .5 target is no longer credible, because it’s been delayed twice and the opposition has refused to give it a date.

“So it’s very hard to plan an aid program if you don’t know what your funding is going to be in the next few years.”

Aid groups remain disappointed about the delays and diversion to foreign aid.

Marc Purcell, from the Australian Council for International Development, says the two years of savings is too much.

“Over the forward estimates, two years in a row there’s a total of $4.8 billion has been taken from the Australian aid program,” he said.

“Additionally, the government said that $375 million was going to be taken for domestic costs for asylum-seekers in Australia – this is money that would never reach poor people overseas.

“Over the forward estimates [it’s] a billion dollars worth of aid that will never reach poor people overseas, it’s actually going to be spent inside Australia.”

Indonesia aid

There’s also an extra $100 million going to Australia’s biggest aid recipient – Indonesia.

The estimated outcome for Indonesia is $540 million and Professor Stephen Howes says the aid will go up $650 million next year.

“The government had indicated that it planned to scale up the Indonesia program, so it’s consistent with that,” he said.

“But it is a sharp jump, and it seems to be spread across the program – the budget refers to improving health and education outcomes, justice and governance.

“So it seems to be a boost for the aid program in general, rather than for one specific activity.”

Pacific spending

Professor Howes says there were initial concerns the money diverted to asylum-seeker processing would come at the expense of country programs in the Pacific and elsewhere.

He says it appears that funding is instead being drawn from general humanitarian support, rather than affecting the country programs.

“The Pacific didn’t take a hit really in this current year,” he said.

“On the other hand, if you look at the next year…there’s no real increase in it for the Pacific either.

“The total Pacific aid budget goes up, but only from $1.10 billion to $1.13 billion – there’s a few countries that go up and a few countries that go down, but nothing really stands out.”

The Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Matt Thistlethwaite, says he’s proud of what the budget delivers for the Pacific.

“In a climate where most Western developed nations are reducing their aid budget, Australia stands out for a beacon of development – particularly in the Pacific,” he said.

“A number of Pacific nations are struggling to meet their Millennium Development Goals, so we’re prioritising funding to assisting those nations to meet those goals.”

Almost half a billion dollars is going towards the transition of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, RAMSI – although only some of the money is new.

Australian Defence personnel are still on track to pull out later this year, but the transition money will go to improve Solomon Islands’ governance.

Migration issues

The budget says that the number of asylum seeker boat arrivals will increase next year.

There has already been more than 120 boats this years, carrying more than 800 people.

The government is spending $2.9 billion housing asylum seekers and Australia’s migration program will be maintained at 190,000 places.

The government is also doubling the application charge for the controversial 457 skilled foreign worker visa scheme to $900, to raise $200 million.

The Government will spend an extra $3.4 million dollars on compliance, amid claims of widespread rorts.

Source: ABC – Asia-Pacific watching foreign aid in Australia’s budget
 

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Australian debt may grow beyond $300 billion limit | Craig Hill - June 15, 2013

  2. Pingback: Australian debt may grow beyond $300 billion limit | Craig Hill - June 16, 2013

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 14,941 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

Most Recent Posts Post on My Blog About China: China News

Cadence Column: Asia, October 18, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, October 18, 2021

According to Chinese and US claims, China has a high-orbit, hypersonic missile that can hit a target within 24 miles. And, that’s why China is the new boss of the world and everyone else should hate America. The end. But, that’s not the end in the mind of Taiwan or the US Pentagon. This week, […]

China ‘making its nuclear submarines harder to detect’

China ‘making its nuclear submarines harder to detect’

China is upgrading its nuclear missile-equipped submarines to make them harder for rival powers such as the US to detect, reports suggest. The People’s Liberation Army Navy has redesigned its type 094 submarines to make them quieter, The South China Morning Post reports. Defence experts believe the Chinese 094 submarine can carry and launch the […]

Could China’s economy collapse?

Could China’s economy collapse?

For almost half a century, Chinese officials have overseen one of the greatest economic transformations in human history. The country has gone from collectivized farms and famine to world-leading tech companies and gleaming megacities connected by superfast trains. More than 800 million Chinese have been pulled out of poverty as the Communist Party and its leader […]

China’s economic crisis is much bigger than expected – its property market, the largest in the world, is collapsing

China’s economic crisis is much bigger than expected – its property market, the largest in the world, is collapsing

The situation in China is much worse than originally thought.  The largest property market in the world is set to collapse and the ramifications will impact the entire world.  We’ve been discussing China’s economic issues for years.  Recently this was even discussed with Steve Bannon on The War Room. We now have information that the […]

UN must condemn forced organ harvesting in China

UN must condemn forced organ harvesting in China

Doctors, lawyers, and politicians from three continents called on the international community to ensure an end to China’s practice of forced organ harvesting during the first half of the World Summit on Combating and Preventing Forced Organ Harvesting. Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) further calls upon the participants of the United Nations General Assembly […]

China says its J-31 is superior to F-35, and will be new carrier-borne fighter jet

China says its J-31 is superior to F-35, and will be new carrier-borne fighter jet

Dwnews.com describes the J-31 in its report “曝歼31配新型导弹高清照 被指将终结美军空中优势[图]” as China’s new carrier-borne fighter jet for China’s Type 003 aircraft carrier. The speculation is based on the J-31’s Chief Designer Sun Cong’s recent comment on social media that China will make public its new carrier-borne fighter jet by year end. The report describes the J-31 as […]

The reason for the discussion on the Tobin tax in China

The reason for the discussion on the Tobin tax in China

Tax every major financial transaction for social equity by a fraction and allocate the funds to redistribution initiatives. The Tobin tax is the shattered dream of the anti-globalist left, even if its history is slightly more complex. Formulated in 1972 by James Tobin, the 1981 Nobel laureate in economics, it aimed to stabilize the financial […]

Is another Cultural Revolution underway in China?

Is another Cultural Revolution underway in China?

Chinese President Xi Jinping is cracking down on several sectors of Chinese society, including technology and entertainment. This has some Beijing watchers worried a new version of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution is underway. Here’s everything you need to know. What was the Cultural Revolution? It was a brutal 10-year period between 1966-76 (with most […]

Cadence Column: Asia, October 11, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, October 11, 2021

Biden is creating a special center within CIA for China. Xi Jinping is irate. Biden knows China almost as well as Trump. He met with Chinese officials as Vice President. While Trump played a “good cop” routine on China, Biden is in a better position to be less diplomatic. After all, hating on China does […]

The curious case of Pakistan, China, TTP and BRI

The curious case of Pakistan, China, TTP and BRI

On 1st October Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan broke all hell loose when on the Turkish government-run TV channel, TRT World, he disclosed that the Pakistani government is in secret talks with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), facilitated by the Afghan Taliban. The Pakistanis were upset for many reasons. They were upset that they were kept in […]

%d bloggers like this: