6 Responses

  1. Nic maclellan
    Nic maclellan November 20, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    With the Prime Minister travelling soon to Paris, its also important to look at how the ODA program will be integrated into Australia’s commitment to climate financing.

    In Lima last year, Australia committed A$200 million over four years to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and recently resumed its role as co-Chair of the Fund. These welcome steps follow a lengthy hiatus where the Abbott government refused to support or contribute to the Fund.

    A key problem is that neither major political party in Australia has explained how they will contribute our fair share of international climate financing. The current global objective of US$100 billion of public and private funds each year means Australia should contribute more than A$2 billion annually. Recent cuts to the aid budget and the lack of other mechanisms to raise revenue (through carbon taxes, Tobin taxes or the like) means Canberra will struggle to match recent pledges from other OECD countries (Labor relied on the ODA budget for our Fast Start Finance in 2010-12, and refused to use any revenues from the carbon tax for our international obligations).

    A central pillar of any deal in Paris will be adequate, predictable and sustained climate financing. With most climate funds currently flowing to major energy and infrastructure projects in larger developing nations, our Pacific island neighbours want to ensure that more revenues are focused on adaptation as well as mitigation, and that funding mechanisms are adapted to the capacities of small island states.

    Minister for International Development and the Pacific Steven Ciobo has pledged that Australia will advocate for the interests of our Pacific neighbours at the GCF. But islanders want to speak in their own voice and have created mechanisms – such as the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) group at the United Nations – to advance their own agenda on environment and development.

  2. Garth Luke
    Garth Luke November 18, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    I agree with the direction of your call Terence. However if the Turnbull Government is going to signal a change of policy from the continuous aid cuts of the Abbott period and convince electors that it is committed to aid it will need to do more than just avoid the next cut and ensure that the aid budget does not drop below its current 0.25% of GNI.

    I can’t imagine the Prime Minister wants to go down in history as the Prime Minister who cut Australian aid to its lowest level of generosity ever but that is what will happen if he only maintains the 2015-16 aid budget in real terms.

    Given Australia’s current low rate of growth in nominal GNI, preventing a further fall in the ODA/GNI ratio would not cost a lot of dollars, and as you say, have no material impact on Australia’s fiscal health. But it would have a real impact on Australia’s and the PM’s reputation and on Australia’s aid partners.

  3. Michael Hutak
    Michael Hutak November 18, 2015 at 8:39 am

    A timely and urgent plea, Terence, with which many furiously agree, but dare not utter publicly. But while reading the political tea leaves is all well and good, let’s see some action rather pin our hopes on signals and shadow puppetry. It’s not at all clear whether, despite her rhetoric supporting women’s empowerment, Julie Bishop’s chief role has been to ameliorate the stakeholders affected by cuts rather than put their case in Cabinet against said cuts. Bishop has never uttered one public statement questioning the cuts, other than to use them as an excuse to whack Labor and blame the all-purpose “budget emergency”. As deft a politician as we have seen, Bishop has managed to deflect any personal responsibility for any of the negative consequences of the changes wrought during her tenure. If her power has increased with Turnbull’s ascension, we will either see some turnaround here or else her actions will have done her talking for her.

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