The development community is at a loss: Will the Australian government make good of its pledge to increase foreign aid spending?
On Wednesday (May 2), aid organizations met with Bob Carr, Australia’s minister for foreign affairs, to voice their concerns on the aid budget. But Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said they got “no guarantee.”
Carr said he can’t tip or speculate on the budget, adding “no minister does that.” But he said once the details are out, one can only conclude that Australia “continues to be one of the most generous nations in the world.” Treasurer Wayne Swan will release Australia’s federal budget May 8.
Fears that Australia will renege on its foreign aid pledge circled when Prime Minister Julia Gillard did not address the issue in April. Rumors that legislators would push back the aid target deadline to 2017 only exacerbated the situation.
Before his resignation, former Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd promised to boost aid spending to 0.5 percent of the country’s gross national income by 2015. If that were to be followed, the country’s foreign aid budget for this year would increase to 5.3 billion Australian dollars or 0.38 percent of GNI.
An open letter signed by more than 100 Australians, including actors Hugh Jackman and Geoffrey Rush, was sent to Gillard urging her to deliver on the government’s promise.
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