Commenting on last night’s Federal Budget and its impact on aid, Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said:
“Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said this budget is about protecting Australians, but then failed to address the two biggest threats to our community: the global pandemic and climate change.
“The Treasurer also said his Government is about providing a helping hand to those who need it and emphasised our relatively strong economic position – yet has reduced our overseas aid and development contribution overall.
“After promising signs last year that the Government was stepping up to play its part in supporting the global COVID-19 response, we are deeply disappointed to see it has not built on that foundation.
“Asia is now home to the largest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, and recent outbreaks in Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Fiji highlight risks in the Pacific – and for us – as numbers continue to grow at an alarming rate.
“After decades of positive impacts on poverty reduction, the global pandemic and its alarming health and economic impacts have turned back the clock and reversed those hard-won gains. With increased instability in our region, now is a time to boost support, not reduce it.
“The budget stops well short of what is required to address the escalating crisis in our region. Beyond the $37 million two-year package for India, there are no new, additional investments in this budget for tackling the pandemic.
“We welcome further contributions to the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and new efforts to support our neighbours, but Australia needs to do more. Australia has only invested $80 million in the COVAX facility, a long way from our fair share of $200 million in 2021 to plug the US$2 billion funding gap.
“It is distressing that the Government has once again ignored the dire humanitarian needs beyond our region and put off its commitment to reach $500 million in humanitarian funding by 2022-23.
“As the war in Yemen stretches into its eighth year, and much of East Africa stares down a growing food crisis, our Government must accept its place in our global economy, with all the responsibilities that entails.”
Commenting on the Federal Government’s lack of climate action, Ms Morgain said:
“This budget is a missed opportunity for Australia to revitalise our economy by investing in the research and infrastructure needed to create new jobs, establish Australia as a major exporter of renewable energy, and protect and restore ecosystems.
“As we are keen to see concrete action and concrete commitments, it’s not too late – we urge the Government to step up its commitments ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) later in the year.”