Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Questions without Notice
International Development Assistance
My question is to the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Fierravanti-Wells. Can the minister please advise the Senate of how the 2017 budget supports Australia's overseas development assistance program?
I thank Senator Reynolds for her question. We have not only stabilised our overseas development assistance in this 2017 budget but also, actually, increased it. We recognise that we have to live within our means, and that is, of course, in contrast with those opposite and their six years of fiscal vandalism. They cranked up their overseas development assistance with their spend first and then ask questions later approach. In this budget, our overseas development assistance will increase by $84 million to $3.9 billion. There will be a further increase in next year's budget to $4 billion, and then to deliver our budget surplus in 2020-21 overseas development assistance will stay at $4 billion for two years.
We deliver targeted and focused overseas development assistance. We focus on affordable incomes, with good international relations. For example, we will spend almost $400 million next year on protracted crises and emergencies—a $60 million increase. And we know that addressing protracted crises and emergencies is critical, because these are the fundamental causes of extremism, of insecurity and of economic instability. We are also focused on providing stability in the Middle East. There is our $100 million over three years for humanitarian support for stabilisation efforts in Iraq. This follows on from our commitment last year of $220 million to Syria and neighbouring countries for humanitarian needs, and that is in addition to contributions that we are making in Somalia, Sudan and Myanmar. Ninety per cent of our budget will continue to be spent in our region to add to regional stability, prosperity and security.
Our budget stands for fairness, opportunity and security, and it also responsibly supports a strong, prosperous and secure region, especially in our Indo-Pacific area. Our ODA is focused on quality outcomes, because we know that providing good aid, particularly in our region, is good for Australia's national security interests. ODA contributes to sustainable economic growth, poverty reduction and stability. Australia will benefit if citizens in our region are healthy, well educated and making an economic contribution in their own country. If our neighbouring countries are stable, well governed and open to trading opportunities, our overseas development assistance complements the other steps that the government is taking to ensure that we live in a safe and prosperous region.
Of course, Labor has had so many different positions. In the 2016 election, you promised to increase the aid budget by $800 million over four years. Your Deputy Leader Plibersek has previously promised to increase foreign aid spending by almost $20 billion. Where were you going to get the money for that? You boasted of almost doubling the aid budget during the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years. That was at the time you were pursuing a seat on the UN Security Council. But, of course, your promises cannot be trusted. As soon as the UN Security Council vote was over, you cut your aid budget by $5.7 billion.
Opposition senators interjecting—
Mr President, I am loath to take a point of order, but throughout this question time, as yesterday and as usual, Senator Wong has been yelling throughout every government answer. The chamber; you, Mr President; and those colleagues who are answering questions deserve common courtesy, which she has conspicuously failed to show.
Under the Gillard government, $750 million was diverted from your overseas development assistance to pay for your border protection blowout. This made you the third-largest recipient of your own aid budget. (Time expired)