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Australian Government caught out on aid generosity

Lies, damned lies and statistics:

Australian Government caught out on aid generosity.

Figures from the OECD today blew out of the water the Foreign Ministers suggestion of a 9.9% increase in Australian aid, according to AID/WATCH, Australia’s leading aid watchdog.

“Subterfuge and obfuscation”, said AID/WATCH’s Tim O’Connor, “are the typical traits we have come to expect from our government in relation to its failing commitment to focus on poverty alleviation”, upon the announcement of the latest international aid figures from the OECD.

In the federal budget aid statement in May 2004, Foreign Minister Downer stated that Australian aid had increased by 9.9%, a figure hotly contested by AID/WATCH. The current statistics from the OECD suggest the increase was just one fifth of that figure, 2.3% - exactly as AID/WATCH predicted.

“There are lies, damned lies and statistics”, said Tim O’Connor. “Australian taxpayers who are funding our aid program deserve better than such blatant, expedient falsehoods. This government has been the most miserly in terms of foreign aid spending of any in our recent history.”

Currently Australia’s aid spending has stagnated at 0.25% of ODA (Official Development Assistance) to GNI (Gross National Income), the international standard for measuring aid spending. It falls well below the 0.7% figure required to meet the Millennium Development Goals, to which Australia is officially a signatory but in reality it has done little to prioritise.

Average spending amongst OECD donor nations increased twice the amount that Australia’s aid spending increased by, further highlighting the parsimonious level of the Australian aid commitment.

The tawdry facts about Australia’s lack of generosity come soon after recent AID/WATCH research questioned the government’s dedication of just $50 million of the promised $1 billion tsunami relief package to Aceh.

[1] Downer, A. Australia's International Development Cooperation: Advancing Security, Prosperity and Development in Our Region, Media Release, May 11 2004.
[2] International Response to the Indian Ocean Disaster, A donor analysis: Focus on Australia

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