Quietly accompanying Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s announcement of a new aid strategy and framework (a not so ‘new aid paradigm’–see our analysis here) was the release of a Blue Book equivalent on the DFAT website. Along with updating the ‘budget highlights’ page to include the ‘Global Programmes’ component that was previously left out of the highlights, a link appeared to a Word document: ‘The 2014-15 development assistance budget: a summary [DOCX 403 KB]’. This document is only a formatting job and few extra tables away from being the 2014-15 Blue Book.
Perhaps one reason it wasn’t released at budget time is that it structures the aid program using the Coalition’s just-released sectoral breakdown for the aid program.
As well as providing information on the Coalition’s areas of focus, it provides a more generalised breakdown of sectoral funding, which, as shown here, is very similar to the 2013-14 distribution.
This release is a very welcome development, and certainly one that helps Australian aid transparency. Let’s hope the Blue Book, or this new incarnation, returns to being a fixture of the Budget process in the years to come.