Selling Out the Poor for a Few Kilometres of Bitumen

Two days before the Federal election, the Coalition announced it would not go ahead with the $4.5 billion increases that had been planned for the aid budget  over the next three years. Treasurer elect, Joe Hockey, said that

We can’t continue to fund a massive increase in foreign aid at the expense of investment in the Australian economy. So we have to cut the growth in foreign aid, to fund Australian infrastructure because the stronger the Australian economy, the more generous we can be in future.

Reported in

Seriously? Here are the facts.

1. We are richer than ever.

Check out these two charts.

GNI Per Capita Aust Blk

household income2Australia has experienced almost continual economic growth for the last fifty years. It’s left us in a situation where even low income households have relatively high levels of disposable income. If we’re not in a situation now to be generous, we never have been and never will be. Seriously Joe, how much is enough?!

2. We can afford infrastructure and aid

Here’s the Federal Government spend for the current financial year.

Aust Federal BudgetAid is only a tiny fraction of our spend. Here’s an idea. The Coalition has flagged that over the next decade it will raise defence spending from the current 1.57% GDP to 2% GDP. How about we take half of that increase and devote it to aid, which gives life to people, instead of weapons, which are designed to kill people?

3. We are international laggards on aid

Here’s the latest figures on aid as a proportion of national income.

aID AS PERCENT GNI 2012BLKWe have one of the strongest economies in the world, yet we rank in the bottom half of donors. If other industrialised economies can afford to give more so can we.

4. We made a promise

In September 2000, Prime Minister Howard, stood shoulder to shoulder with world leaders and declared we would spare no effort to free our “fellow human beings from the abject and dehumanising condition of extreme poverty”. To put legs on this a bipartisan commitment to take the aid budget to 0.5% of national income by 2015 followed. The Labor Government pushed the date back a couple of years. The Coalition have abandoned it. Good on you Joe, you have traded the opportunity to end extreme poverty for millions for a few extra kilometres of bitumen.

The reality is that aid works. It sees kids going to school, families getting sufficient nutrition, adults finding well paid employment, sick people having access to medical treatment, and more. To abandon our fellow human beings to build even more infrastructure in one of the world’s richest economies is sorry testament to how greedy we’ve become.



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John Cox
John Cox
10 years ago

I think that it is wrong that Joe Hockey drops this in at the end of the election campaign, so there was no discussion as most people would have switched off the election by then. Then they will claim that they have a mandate from the people. People cry poor, when we are blessed to live in a well off country. We are blessed to be a blessing. Australians have been known to be those that put there hands up to help people in need. Mr Hockey please have a heart for those who need our help.

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