One year on, signs of progress in AusAID’s reform drive

By Lorenzo Piccio 03 September 2012

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr at the ASEAN East Asia Summit 2012. Photo by: Michael Wilson/AusAID / CC BY

In a bid to return the budget to surplus next year, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr announced in May that the Gillard government was deferring its commitment to hike aid spending to 0.5 percent of the country’s gross national income. Much to the dismay of Australia’s development community, he revealed that the government intended to meet the 0.5 percent target in 2016-17, a year later than initially pledged by then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd back in 2007. Australian aid spending will remain at 0.35 percent of GNI in 2012-13.

Carr, who succeeded Rudd as Australia’s top diplomat in March, nonetheless emphasized that the country’s aid budget would continue to grow each year through 2017. Deputy Leader of the Opposition Julie Bishop has since argued that setting a Coalition timetable for the 0.5 percent target would be “reckless” in light of the government’s aid spending plans. Australia’s next federal election is due late next year.

Yet amid its postponement of Australia’s aid spending scale-up, the Gillard government is pressing ahead in its efforts to increase effectiveness at the Australian Agency for International Development, suggests a just-released progress report by the Australian Council for International Development or ACFID. Counting over 70 members, ACFID is the umbrella organization for Australian aid groups.

According to the ACFID report, which includes contributions from World Vision Australia and International Development Contractors Australia, the Gillard government has achieved progress in key areas of its AusAID reform initiative. Joining the ranks of major aid donors including the United States and the United Kingdom, Australia has pledged to transform its aid program to foster greater value for money, transparency and focus on results.

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About the author

Lorenzo Piccio@lorenzopiccio

Lorenzo is a contributing analyst for Devex. Previously Devex's senior analyst for development finance in Manila, he is currently an MA candidate in international economics and international development at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. Lorenzo holds a bachelor's degree in government and social studies from Wesleyan University.

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