Caritas Australia CEO Paul O’Callaghan says the Turnbull Government’s projected cuts to its aid budget is at odds with the generosity of the Australian people and places the country in an unenviable position. Source: Melbourne Catholic.
The aid cuts are expected to shave approximately 10 per cent from the current figure, and are widely anticipated to be announced in the government’s next budget. The rumoured cuts come in the wake of significant reductions to the aid budget since 2013, a decrease amounting to 30 per cent.
Mr O’Callaghan said the government’s plans are unrepresentative of the desires of Australians.
“There is compassion in the Australian community and a preparedness to give privately through donations," he said.
“It’s not just about giving money, volunteering is vital too. As a society, we have a history of people volunteering within our country and we’re rated as one of the top four or five countries in the world in terms of volunteering efforts.”
Mr O’Callaghan said Caritas’ annual Project Compassion appeal project demonstrated the country’s generosity and signalled a sense of leadership among Australians that the government is not replicating.
Following several years of cuts to Australia’s aid budget, Mr O’Callaghan said Australia had dropped down the OECD rankings (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), reducing the nations aid output from 0.4 per cent to 0.23 per cent of the country’s GNI (gross national income), Australia's lowest ever figure in over 60 years.
“The consequence of that decision is that Australia is now a low-ranking contributor on the world stage on these issues,” Mr O'Callaghan said.
“We’ve gone from a ranking from around 9th to 19th in just four years. The view internationally is that Australia has not suffered economically in the way that many other wealthy countries have but we’re not prepared to share the burden of poverty.
“In 2007, both major political parties made commitments to try to raise our GNI from 0.4 per cent to 0.5 per cent and we think there should be a commitment before the next election to move up from where we are now, towards 0.5 again.”
Aid cuts are a cause for concern and alarm, says Caritas CEO (Melbourne Catholic)