The Morrison Government needs to reverse its cuts to Australia’s aid budget with even former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop admitting that the cuts have damaged Australia’s national interests.
Since the Coalition came to office in 2013, it has slashed Australian official development assistance by more than $11.8 billion.
These massive cuts have not only hurt some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.
They have also diminished Australia’s standing in the Indo-Pacific and have undermined our interests in a stable, secure and prosperous region – leaving a vacuum for others to fill.
Ms Bishop has now admitted that she regarded the cuts which she presided over as Foreign Minister as “regrettable”, particularly coming at a time of rising geopolitical competition in our region.
She has acknowledged that the cuts have “sent mixed messages about Australia’s commitment as a partner” to developing countries in our region.
COVID-19 and geopolitical competition make rebuilding the aid program an important priority for Australian foreign policy.
Aid organisations, churches and faith-based organisations, and thousands of ordinary Australians are calling for the Government to use the coming Budget to start rebuilding the international development program.
It’s time for Scott Morrison to back up his slogans about a “Pacific Step Up” with real action to further Australia’s interests and help our development partners.