Save the Children Australia welcomes Labor’s commitment to increase foreign aid and calls on the Coalition to at least match the promise ahead of the Federal election.
The Opposition’s promise to reject populist nationalism and rebuild Australia’s reputation for internationalism is particularly welcome news in light of the unprecedented need and lack of leadership globally.
Save the Children Australia CEO, Paul Ronalds said the impact of Australia’s recent withdrawal from the international stage, when it comes to humanitarian and development assistance, cannot be understated.
“Cuts to foreign aid have not only limited our impact for children and their families, it has also damaged Australia’s reputation and influence globally,” said Mr Ronalds.
“At a time when there is a distinct lack of international leadership, there is an opportunity for Australia to step up and realise its potential as a true middle power, especially in our region.”
“This is good for the world’s most disadvantaged and marginalised children, and it’s certainly good for Australia’s position within the world.”
Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson, Senator Penny Wong used a speech at the University of Queensland to detail Labor’s plan to increase aid as a percentage of Gross National Income (GNI) in every budget, starting with the first, if elected.
“We appreciate that after years of cuts, it will take time to rebuild Australia’s foreign aid budget,” said Mr Ronalds.
“Save the Children welcomes the plan outlined by Labor to rebuild Australia’s aid budget, and we call on the Coalition to match it, including a year on year increase to Australia’s aid program as a proportion of GNI.”
“Our nation’s commitment to foreign aid is more than food, shelter and healthcare; it also sends a message to the world’s children caught in conflict and poverty that they matter and we care.”
Save the Children welcomes Labor’s promise that investment in the Pacific would be focused on development outcomes and not come at a cost to other aid investments in the region.
“The focus on our region, and on improving health outcomes, makes economic sense for both Australia and Pacific nations,” said Mr Ronalds.
“We have some of the worst child stunting due to malnutrition in the world right on our doorstop, and yet hardly any of Australia’s investment in the Pacific is focused on nutrition interventions.”
“Malnutrition not only poses a threat to the survival and development of over half a million children in PNG, it poses a major threat to sustainable economic growth in PNG.”
Save the Children’s report Short Changed: The Human and Economic Costs of Child Undernutrition in PNG showed that child undernutrition in Papua New Guinea cost its economy 2.81% of its annual GDP in the financial year 2015-16, the equivalent of USD 508 million.
For interviews, call Licardo Prince on 0401 777 917.