A group of civil society organizations have welcomed the commitment of Australia’s Green political party to push for the independence of the Australian International Agency for Development and the appointment of a minister for development cooperation to oversee the agency.
Make Poverty History, a network of more than 60 aid agencies, religious organizations and community groups in Australia, urged other political parties to mirror the Greens’ commitment.
“It is time for Australia to have a cabinet level Minister for Development Cooperation and improve the design and purposes of Australian aid. Aid should be seen as more than a foreign policy instrument and instead should focus on the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals,” Tim Costello, co-chair of Make Poverty History, said in a statement.
AusAID is currently part the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which is led by Stephen Smith.
Make Poverty History also urged the federal government and opposition parties to commit to increase the country’s development assistance budget to 0.7 percent of Australia’s gross national income. The focus of the increase should be maternal and child health, education, gender equality, food security, water and sanitation.