One stark difference between Australia’s two latest governments is that Julia Gillard’s current cabinet does not include a dedicated parliamentary secretary for foreign aid, an non-governmental organization official says.
“For most of the past 20 years or so, Australia’s official aid program, implemented by AusAID, has had the political oversight and leadership of a dedicated parliamentary secretary, reporting to the minister for foreign affairs,” according to Craig Wilson, executive director of the Foundation for Development Cooperation.
Wilson says Bob McMullan, who held the position under Kevin Rudd’s administration, was a good choice because he had the necessary experience. McMullan’s experience “made a huge difference” to the operations and personnel of the Australian Agency for International Development, he notes.
“That no such political role or direct political oversight exists any longer stands in stark contrast to Australia’s increased official aid spending and the looming end to the 15-year pursuit of the UN Millennium Development Goals in 2015,” Wilson writes in an op-ed for The Australian. “The lack of a parliamentary secretary position for AusAID and the Australian official aid program also varies from the approach of many other governments in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which maintain significant official aid budgets.”
Wilson adds that Kevin Rudd, who is the new foreign minister under Gillard’s government and who will apparently have overall responsibility and full oversight of AusAID, will be able to better perform his core responsibilities if there was a dedicated parliamentary foreign aid secretary reporting to him.