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ALP Provide positive alternative on aid.

21st February, 2005.

ALP Provide positive alternative on aid.

The Australian aid watchdog, AID/WATCH, commended the Australian Labor Party on its new aid policy announced today, “Our Generations Challenge”.

The new policy paper clearly identifies areas of aid quality that have plagued the effectiveness of aid under the Howard Government.

“For ten years now the Howard Government has focused on advancing business and strategic interests through the aid program”, said Tim O’Connor from AID/WATCH. “This new focus from the ALP marks a clear delineation between the two major parties and more closely reflects the international standard that most countries have already adopted” continued O’Connor.

Focusing the aid program on the international target of the Millennium Development Goals and a clear focus on poverty alleviation marks a stratospheric shift in the ALP’s aid policy.

Positive moves on aid quality:

· Clear focus on poverty alleviation so incidents like the AWB scandal in Iraq are excluded from being funded through the Australian aid program.

· Concrete plans to untie Australia’s aid program and cease the practice of ‘boomerang aid’, a major inhibitor of aid effectiveness. Currently the vast majority of Australian Government aid is delivered by Australian companies with much of the funds ending up in the back pockets of Aussie consultants and aid companies, rather than in the communities they are allocated to. The UK untied its aid program almost a decade ago.

· Establish an independent policy body to contest ideas and move away from the ‘Canberra Consensus’ model that is too conflicted with many policy writers also receiving aid contracts.

· More funding to NGOs that now receive less than 5% of the total Government aid budget yet conduct some of the most effective and important poverty alleviation work.

More work required on aid quantity…

· Lack of a commitment and a timetable to increase the quantity of aid to 0.7 % of Gross National Income. The majority of OECD donor nations have made timetabled commitments to this goal and Australia needs to follow suit.

“This new focus on the quality of aid from the ALP is indicative of an opposition with ideas. This is a real challenge to the Howard Coalition with the impending release of the new White Paper on Austrlian aid. The challenge for the government is to rise to the standard being set within the rest of the world and clearly focus on Making Poverty History, “ commented O’Connor

ENDS


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