Candidates challenged on foreign aid cuts

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Wahroonga, New South Wales

On the eve of Australia’s Federal Election, candidates for the Sydney seat of Bradfield have been challenged to take a stand against cuts to the nation’s foreign aid program.

It's a tiny, tiny slice and it's getting smaller because of conscious decisions governments have made. If you are elected we want you to take it on as a personal cause.

Speaking yesterday at a “Meet the candidates” afternoon tea at the Fox Valley Community Centre in Wahroonga, Micah Australia* national coordinator Ben Thurley said just 0.8 per cent of the Federal Budget goes to foreign aid.

“It’s a tiny, tiny slice and it’s getting smaller because of conscious decisions governments have made,” he said, before challenging the candidates, “If you are elected we want you to take it on as a personal cause.”

ADRA Australia CEO Mark Webster (left) with Micah Australia national coordinator Ben Thurley (right).

The afternoon tea, co-hosted by Micah and the Adventist Development & Relief Agency (ADRA) Australia, saw members of the community and local church leaders gather to meet Bradfield candidates Katie Gompertz (ALP), Adrian Jones (the Greens), Christine Berman (Independent) and Chris Vale (Christian Democrats). 

Sitting member Paul Fletcher (Liberal Party) had accepted the invitation but withdrew a few hours before the event.  Despite his no-show, Mr Thurley said the Liberal MP would be made aware of Micah’s concerns about the cuts to foreign aid. “His government has presided over the largest aid cuts in Australia’s history. A lot of us don’t think that’s acceptable,” he said.

ADRA Australia CEO Mark Webster spoke about the effectiveness of Australian aid in fighting poverty. “One of the things we can say about the Australian aid program is that it saves lives,” he said.

Bradfield candidates with guests at the afternoon tea.

Prayers were led by church leaders for the election candidates and for those living in poverty around the world.

* Micah Australia is a coalition of churches and Christian organisations seeking to raise a powerful voice for justice and a world free from poverty.