Monday, August 5, 2013

Early casualty of electoral war - overseas aid a 'soft target' says UNICEF

'...all of the basic programs will have to take a cut... and really there is so much need in our very near region. So much progress has been made, there are 14,000 more children under five survive today than two decades ago, why stall that progress now?'

That's the message from UNICEF in response to the Federal Government's decision to cut overseas aid by nearly $1 billion over four years, redirecting $420 million over four years to Papua New Guinea as part of refugee assessment and resettlement arrangements.

Leaving aside the question of how refugees should be treated,  a key issue for Australian Christian voters, the aid reduction will again delay Australia meeting its commitment to meet that Millennium Goals target of devoting 0.5 per cent of gross national income to foreign aid.

This target was to be met in 2015-16 and has been optimistically deferred to 2017-18. But UNICEF is not convinced:

'It would mean an enormous balloon payment at the end of the period,' UNICEF's Norma Gillespie told the ABC.

'The aid budget makes up just 1.5 per cent of the total government budget and yet over the last three years the sector has taken cuts of 14 per cent. That's a big disproportionate cut, which tells me there really isn't principle behind this, that this is a soft target.'

There almost certainly be many more soft targets in the relentless campaigning of the next 33 days...

The word on this issue from Micah Challenge

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