Senate debates

Wednesday, 16 August 2017


International Development Assistance

3:40 pm

Photo of Anne UrquhartAnne Urquhart (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

At the request of Senator Singh, I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that 19 August is World Humanitarian Day, as designated by unanimous consensus of the United Nations General Assembly;

(b) recognises:

  (i) the impact of conflict, disaster and other humanitarian crises upon the safety, wellbeing and dignity of civilians throughout the world,

  (ii) the fundamental importance of humanitarian aid to the protection of civilians, particularly in light of current patterns of mass displacement and migration, and

  (iii) the critical nature of ongoing processes of stabilisation, peacebuilding, recovery and reconstruction after conflict;

(c) acknowledges and commends the ongoing contribution of humanitarian workers enabling the delivery of essential assistance to civilians impacted by conflict and disaster, often at great personal risk;

(d) encourages all Australians to reflect upon:

  (i) the significance of humanitarian work,

  (ii) the importance of adequate resources for the delivery of crucial humanitarian aid programs, and

  (iii) the essential role of the United Nations in maintaining a rules-based international order and protecting human life and dignity;

(e) notes with concern:

  (i) that cuts to Australia's aid and development budget have represented around 25% of all budget cuts since 2013,

  (ii) that the aid and development budget is predicted to fall to 0.22% of gross national income (GNI—the lowest level in its history—in 2017-18, and

  (iii) that Australia is, as a result, at odds with trajectories toward increased funding for aid and development both within and outside the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); and

(f) calls upon the Government to commit to the promotion, implementation and provision of resources for humanitarian aid work wherever possible, including by:

  (i) reversing the aid and development budget's ever-diminishing trajectory, and ensuring that Australia's aid program is adequately resourced in the future, and

  (ii) maintaining Australia's support for, and participation in, the United Nations.

Photo of James McGrathJames McGrath (Queensland, Liberal National Party, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I seek leave to make a short statement.

Photo of Stephen ParryStephen Parry (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Leave is granted for one minute.

Photo of James McGrathJames McGrath (Queensland, Liberal National Party, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

The world is facing unprecedented humanitarian need. Australia continues to respond strongly, with funding of $399.7 million in 2017-18, an increase of $60 million from last year. This includes increasing our emergency fund to $150 million to provide timely, life-saving assistance to those in need, particularly in our region. Australia has committed over $800 million in humanitarian assistance since 2014 to help meet the needs of the 65 million displaced people worldwide, including Syrians and Iraqis affected by the current conflict. Calls to increase aid funding should describe which existing programs should be cut or which taxes raised to fund this.

Question agreed to.