6 Responses

  1. Tess Newton Cain
    Tess Newton Cain May 15, 2015 at 8:34 am

    One thing that wasn’t discussed at the event on Wednesday is the impact that cuts such as these has on the quality of total engagement between Australia and recipient countries. DFAT people will likely find it harder to get access to political and bureaucratic leaders and decision-makers if they are unable to answer questions about aid allocations with any degree of certainty or (even worse) if they are having to tell people that promised programs have been cancelled or (worse still) current activities are being axed before completion. Not only does this mean that other donors will start to look more preferable but there will be knock-on effects in terms of the overall political and diplomatic dynamic.

  2. Irene Guijt
    Irene Guijt May 14, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Really, it could be worse?? How? Duh, of course, until the aid budget is 0%. Is that what we’ll be saying until ‘worst’ happens? Aspirations can be higher, I would hope.

    I’m with Chris on the merits of looking at the ecosystem. My perspective, having moved here 2.5 years ago from Europe, is that the ecosystem for interest in and work on development here is very much poorer than in many European countries, including the UK. Debates are few, research is limited, players are few, public interest is extremely low, policy is pretty dreadful.

    1. Stephen Howes
      Stephen Howes May 15, 2015 at 3:58 pm


      What I was trying to say is that it could be worse than it was in the 70s, 80s and 90s when aid grew at 1% a year after inflation. Something like this is what I identify as the most likely, though by no means highly likely, scenario from 2107-18 onwards.

  3. Chris Roche
    Chris Roche May 13, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    The question about ‘why we were as a nation unable to sustain our increased generosity’ is an important one. Duncan Green suggests in this blog post that one reason the UK has been an outlier is because it is has a rich ecosystem and ‘busy Aid and Development cluster’. This he argues has led to not just sustained campaign pressure, but also an ‘underlying critical mass of knowledge, interest, concern and consensus’. Is this what Australia currently lacks, and if so could we all be doing more to help create it?

    1. John Fargher
      John Fargher May 21, 2015 at 3:02 pm

      British and European history, colonial and trade, influences development assistance policy today. By virtue of its colonial and maritime trade history, and its position in the Bretton Woods institutions, Britain has several reasons to use development assistance for economic and public diplomacy. That national interest narrative is established (“punching above our weight”, “influencing the global powers” etc.) and the 0.7% GNI policy justified by the narrative. Australia lacks such a narrative. There is an opportunity to develop one. If we are truly part of Asia, if we see Asia as a focus for economic diplomacy, trade and cultural exchange (the “what”) then development cooperation could be woven into the narrative and policy responding to the opportunity (the “how”). That is missing. Perhaps the Development Policy Centre could work with other Think Tanks and private sector actors to start the process of building a narrative of Asian engagement and trade that includes a role for aid. We all have good reason to contribute to such a debate.

  4. Paul
    Paul May 13, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Thanks Stephen

    You’re right. It isn’t fair and it’s pretty bad, but it could be worse. Given the general policy direction of the coalition government, however, I think we probably need to assume that things will get worse before they get better.

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