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Australia's Regional Leadership In Dev. Commended

AA 04 096 Friday 17 December 2004

Australia's Regional Leadership In Development Commended

An OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) report on Australia's aid program released in Paris today commended Australia's leadership in tackling development challenges in the Asia-Pacific region and noted our ambitious development agenda.

Australia's hands-on approach and long term commitment to helping fragile states in our region was welcomed by the DAC, urging us to do more. In particular, the report endorsed Australia's significant financial and comprehensive whole-of government commitments to the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands and the Enhanced Cooperation Program in Papua New Guinea.

The DAC acknowledged the importance of Australian aid in promoting peace and resolving conflict in the region. The report also supported the focus of Australia's aid program on good governance to help ensure the political stability and security necessary for economic growth and poverty reduction. In 2004-05 Australia will spend an estimated $939 million, well over one-third of total aid funding, on governance related activities.

The report also highlighted Australian leadership in combating the threat of HIV/AIDS in the Asia-Pacific region where some 7.4 million people are now living with the disease. Australia has been a leading advocate in advancing the fight against HIV/AIDS in our region. In July Australia more than doubled its HIV/AIDS funding to more than $600 million.

Australia's proud record of providing rapid support for the victims of humanitarian crises and disasters, both within our region and globally was also praised. This financial year funding for our humanitarian, emergency and refugee programs will exceed $146 million, an increase of almost $14 million.

New directions in the delivery of Australian aid were also welcomed, in particular moves to harmonise our aid with that of other donors and the untying of aid.

The report also commended Australia's coherent, whole-of-government approach to trade policy. The liberalisation of trade gives developing countries access to international markets, which is crucial for their development.

Australia welcomes the DAC review and will continue striving for new and innovative approaches that increase the effectiveness of Australian aid in reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development, particularly in our region, the Asia-Pacific.

The DAC routinely conducts peer reviews of its members to monitor international aid policies and programs, assess aid effectiveness, identify best practice and foster co-ordination in the donor community.

ENDS

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