ADRA condemns Australian aid budget cuts

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Wahroonga, New South Wales

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Australia has condemned the federal government’s scheduled $A224 million cut to overseas aid that makes Australia’s aid budget the least generous in its history. 

This is the fourth time in a row the federal government has cut Australian aid, which is really disappointing. We call the government to reverse these cuts and restore aid funding to organisations and programs that have demonstrated effectiveness.

Cuts announced in the 2016-17 federal budget yesterday mean Australia will give just 0.23 per cent of gross national income (GNI) to overseas aid. This is the lowest percentage in Australia’s history, and well below the 0.7 per cent recommended by the United Nations and which countries like Britain give.  

ADRA Australia chief executive officer Mark Webster said the cuts were “very disappointing”. 

“The aid cuts announced last night are morally wrong because Australia has a responsibility to be a good neighbour.

“Our desire to see the world restored to God’s intended beauty is significantly hindered by the government’s decision to cut funding from those it will impact most,” Mr Webster said.

ADRA Australia CEO Mark Webster.

Despite significant lobbying from Christian groups and the charitable sector, the federal government still proceeded with the cuts.

“This is the fourth time in a row the federal government has cut Australian aid, which is really disappointing,” said Mr Webster. “We call the government to reverse these cuts and restore aid funding to organisations and programs that have demonstrated effectiveness. 

“But it won’t stop us working to make amazing things happen through our projects in Australia and overseas, and to restore hope to people in poverty.”

Last month, Pastor Jorge Munoz, president of the Adventist Church in Australia and chair of the ADRA Australia board, joined other Christian leaders in urging the federal government not to proceed with the planned cuts, warning that they would “damage and undermine programs which have a direct impact on the lives, livelihoods, security and opportunity of many of our region’s poorest and most vulnerable people and communities”.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (third from left) meets with Vanuatu Prime Minister Joe Natuman (far left) and ADRA volunteer Kiri Maxwell (second from left) in 2015. [Photo courtesy: ADRA Australia]

ADRA Australia is part of a wider coalition of churches and agencies known as Micah Australia that continues to fight for fairness in the aid budget. 

Micah Australia national coordinator Ben Thurley said: “While many other countries are increasing their international assistance towards the fight against poverty, Australia is stepping back its role in building a fairer world.”