The Liberals have slashed our aid budget every year they have been in office, with cuts of more than $11 billion seeing the aid budget fall to just 0.22 per cent of GNI – the lowest level on record. On the current trajectory, it is forecast to drop further to as low as just 0.16 per cent.
These cuts have undermined our ability to achieve objectives that support our national and security interests.
Labor believes Australia should do its fair share internationally, and work with the international community to achieve the longstanding funding targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals.
When Labor was last in power, Australia’s development assistance budget rose every year – reaching around 0.35 per cent of GNI.
Rebuilding Australia’s international development assistance program is a core element of Labor’s foreign policy.
A strong civil society is vital to democracy, inclusion, transparency and openness, accountability, and the protection of minorities and marginalised groups. A Shorten Labor Government will engage with civil society, not just as partners in the delivery of projects, but to support and strengthen the work they do and the role they play in their own countries.
A Shorten Labor Government will invest $32 million in a Pacific Avoidable Blindness and Vision Loss Fund. Loss of sight condemns people in developing countries to a life of poverty and decreased life expectancy. It is estimated that in the developing world 80 per cent of all blindness and vision impairment is avoidable or treatable.
Australia is well placed to help eliminate avoidable blindness and vision impairment in our region, however, the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has reduced annual aid expenditure on eye health by approximately 41 per cent over the last four years.
A Shorten Labor Government will partner with organisations such as The Fred Hollows Foundation, Vision 2020 Australia and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists to clear a backlog of cataract treatments and aid those with moderate to severe visual impairments in the Pacific.
It will also train up to 600 health workers across the region and support program implementation in-country, including delivering screening and examination for eye health conditions.
Labor will also increase the annual base grant funding for fully accredited non-government organisations in the Australian NGO Cooperation Program at a cost of $32 million over the forward estimates.
This increase reflects Labor’s commitment to working with NGOs to strengthen Australia’s aid delivery.
We will fund these commitments by making multinationals pay their fair share and closing tax loopholes used by the top end of town.