Civil society groups say it is not enough for Australia to increase its aid budget. The country also needs to improve the quality of its official development assistance if it wants to make a bigger impact on the development of poor countries, they argue.
Australia should fully commit to playing its role in helping developing countries meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by 2015, according to the Australian Council for International Development, a network of 72 Australian nonprofit organizations.
“Australia has the lowest public debt among [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] countries, as well as low unemployment and strong growth, and yet we are still not giving our fair share of the funding needed to meet the critically important MDGs,” said Tom O’Connor of the Oaktree Foundation, IPS News reports.
He added: “Neither is the quality of our overseas aid assistance up to scratch. For example, we only give about one-third of our fair share to the Global Fund to Fight [AIDS], Tuberculosis and Malaria.”
Several activists have noted that the majority of Australia’s ODA is tied aid or “boomerang aid,” which, an international public health expert said, never leaves the country.
In April 2006, Australia untied its overseas aid program, enabling firms regardless of nationality to bid for AusAID-funded procurement opportunities save for those under the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Reconstruction and Development.