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$50 Million to Aceh! Where is the other $950Mn?

Media Release: for immediate release

18th March 2005

$50 Million to Aceh! Where is the other $950 million?

AID/WATCHs concerns that the so called tsunami aid package would involve promoting Australia's relationship with Indonesia, rather than assisting the many in Aceh so badly in need, were confirmed yesterday with just $50 million dedicated to projects in the province.

The belated inaugural meeting of the Joint Commission for the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Reconstruction and Development begun in Canberra yesterday, almost 3 months after the tsunami struck.

According to the AID/WATCH report - International Response to the Indian Ocean Disaster - A donor analysis: Focus on Australia[1] this partnership prioritises Australia's strategic partnership with Indonesia over the needs of tsunami victims. It raises concerns that the majority of funding is being directed to this end at the expense of tsunami reconstruction a situation most Australian taxpayers would find unpalatable.

A Parliamentary Library Research Note[2], released on March 7th2005, also noted these concerns. Furthermore it raises an important point - the areas promoted by the Prime Minister in his tsunami response are virtually identical to those outlined by Foreign Minister Downer in his aid budget statement back in May 2004 seven months before the tsunami struck.

This highlights the fact that Australias $1 billion aid package, consisting of $500 million in grants and $500 million in loans, is strategically focused in line with Australias ongoing objective of delivering aid in the national interestrather than being primarily focused on the alleviation of poverty.

"Focusing on all of Indonesia and not just the tsunami affected areas, is a clear indication that this aid package was politically expedient,stated AID/WATCHs Tim O'Connor. "Less than half the $110 million dedicated so far is going to Aceh and an equal portion has been dedicated for financial reform in Indonesia. The Government have mislead the Australian people who were led to believe this was a tsunami aid," continued O'Connor.

Other concerns relating to the so called tsunami package are the boomerang impacts, which are likely to see large swathes of the money end up in the pockets of Australian business and consultants rather than with those in need on the ground.

AID/WATCH also outlined that Australia is falling well below its requirements under the UN Millennium Development Goals. If Australia was meeting its commitments under the MDGs the total aid to Indonesia over the next 5 years would be $500 million more than we are dedicating to Indonesia including the amount announced post tsunami.

Tim O'Connor | Campaigner | AID/WATCH
- Monitoring the development dollar 19 Eve St, Erskineville, NSW 2043 Australia P +61 2 9557 8944 F +61 2 9557 9822 E

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