5 Responses

  1. Ravi Tomar
    Ravi Tomar May 21, 2015 at 11:39 am

    Robin–excellent commentary. However, may I point out a minor factual error regarding aid to Cambodia. According to DFAT’s Cambodia country page ‘ An additional $10.0 million will be provided in 2015-16 in line with Australia and Cambodia’s agreement on refugee resettlement.’

  2. Mel Dunn
    Mel Dunn May 16, 2015 at 7:42 am

    Robin – sage commentary, as always.

    I comment in this post as it is the most recent in the threads relating to the budget release; in reality I am probably commenting broadly about the cuts now the dust has settled a little.

    We’ve heard the speeches from both sides about their versions of a future for Australia. The relative silence on the slashing of the aid budget in both speeches is telling. Being “approximately the 13th largest donor” is not a mask Australians should accept with any pride.

    I am under-impressed though unsurprised. I was enthused by the New Aid Paradigm’s focus on a results/investment link, so I am somewhat bemused by its application to these budget cuts.

    Of the previous cuts I argued that we needed to talk less about how to spend and more about how to leverage. That was when we were at 5 billion. Today I argue the same holds true.

    I am not defending the cuts; I don’t think they can be defended. None of us should accept these decisions as good, but it is what it is. I doubt tomorrow the Government will come out declaring a typo and put back another billion or so into the aid program. So it is now up to us all to do what we can to support what has, to date, been considered a strong aid program and we need to help to keep it that way.

    We are a myriad of stakeholders – NGOs, private sector, civil society, contractors and so on. So while it has been previously highlighted through The Development Policy Centre’s surveys that we all have vested interests, never has it been more important to be as one.

    The aid program needs us (and others) to succeed. We know it and so does the aid program, yet none of us alone are the panacea for development.

    It is the right thing to come together and work with the aid program to ensure it delivers. It is also the right thing to come together and maintain the rage.

    We are better than approximately 13th and the world deserves us to be better than that. Could together we create leveraged results better than what is being invested by ‘number one’ donor? I don’t know but shouldn’t we at least have a go?

  3. Toby
    Toby May 16, 2015 at 5:47 am

    The allocations to UN agencies demonstrate just how little the Government took into account their own rhetoric when it came to making the cuts. As you rightly point out, Robin, the distinction made between ‘humanitarian’ agencies and ‘non-humanitarian’ agencies was entirely arbitrary – based not on their demonstrated results, actual mandates or the size of their programs, but simply where they happen to sit in the budget structure. The result is that Australia now provides $19 million in core funding to UNRWA, despite the limited geographic scope, relatively small budget, and complete lack of programs in Indo-Pacific – while at the same time providing only $12 million to UNDP and $21 million to UNICEF, organisations with extensive and important programs in Australia’s own region, much larger budgetary needs, and mandates at least as relevant to the Abbott government’s stated priorities.

    It’s not clear to me why the budget – which is notably thin on details and basically leaves it up to individual program managers to make and determine how to absorb the cuts within a specific program – needed to dictate exactly the amount each UN agency would receive. It didn’t do this to other multilateral organisations (other than the ICRC), nor to the NGO program or any of the country programs. Why wasn’t it left to those who actually understand and have ongoing relationships with the UN organisations to make the difficult decisions about how to divide up the resources once the cuts had been made?

  4. Phil Dowton
    Phil Dowton May 15, 2015 at 9:17 am

    An excellent analysis, thank you. Would seem an opportunity to conduct a hard-hitting, independent aid review focused on performance and effectiveness, which involves intended beneficiaries. I’ve returned from 14 years in PNG health, a major recipient. Does anyone seriously believe Australian aid to PNG health is a success story?

Leave a Reply