Media Releases

US CALLS FOR MORRISON GOVERNMENT TO STEP UP IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

March 12, 2020

Comments by the US Ambassador highlight the Morrison Government’s lack of an effective plan for Southeast Asia.
 
Ambassador Culvahouse told a dinner in Sydney the United States wanted Australia to extend its Pacific Step Up to Southeast Asia, a further sign that the Morrison Government has dropped the ball in the region.
 
There is growing evidence that the Pacific Step Up has come at the expense of a Southeast Asia step-down - at a time when greater competition means maximising our influence in the region has never been more important.
 
As shown by the Morrison Government’s own figures, it has slashed aid to Southeast and East Asia by 30 per cent since 2014, including a 50 per cent cut in aid to Indonesia. These cuts directly undermine Australia’s interests in a prosperous, stable and secure region.
 
Australia needs a comprehensive and well-resourced Indo-Pacific strategy that strengthens regional stability and prosperity. Instead, the Morrison Government undermining our reputation as a consistent and trusted partner to our Southeast Asian neighbours.
 
Senator Payne must correct this in this year’s Federal Budget.
 
Over the weekend we learned the Indonesian Government was forced to make public submissions to the Morrison Government’s aid review in order to have their voice heard - now the US is publicly calling on the Morrison Government to step up.
 
How many other close friends of Australia will have to engage in public lobbying before the Morrison Government comes up with an effective plan for the Indo-Pacific?
 
 
Official Development Assistance expenditure, 2014-15 to 2019-20
 

Country programs

2014-15
$m

2019-20
$m

Change $m

Change (per cent)

Cambodia

98.7

66

-32.7

-33.1

Indonesia

610.7

298.5

-312.2

-51.1

Laos

64.1

37.9

-26.2

-40.9

Mongolia

16.5

9.8

-6.7

-40.6

Myanmar

102.4

84

-18.4

-18.0

Philippines

143.8

79.7

-64.1

-44.6

Vietnam

158.1

78.2

-79.9

-50.5

Total Southeast and East Asia (including regional programs)

1289.8

905.1

-384.7

-29.8

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