23 May 2007


Despite welcoming a range of positive initiatives, church, aid and welfare organizations believe that the recently announced 2007-8 national budget failed to adequately respond to the needs of the most poor and marginalized of our world, especially in the light of the large increases in government spending, generous tax cuts and the $10 billion surplus that were included in the budget.

CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society Dr John Falzon said that the budget failed to address the plight of the more than 405,000 Australian households suffering financial stress arising from high rents. "Everyday 'Vinnies' members see families sacrificing on food, clothing and other essential to pay rent" he said.

Meanwhile Executive Director of Catholic Social Services Australia, Frank Quinlan, pointed out that the budget failed to " direct greater attention to the needs of people who face serious barriers to employment"

Whilst the amount allocated as overseas aid increased, as a percentage of gross national income it remains around 0.3%, well short of the affirmed commitments the Australian government have made towards increasing foreign aid to 0.7% as required to meet the target of the Millenium Development Goals

Aid Watch, the not for profit activist organisation monitoring and campaigning on Australian overseas aid and trade policies and programs is critical of the overall level of aid expenditure, the misleading claims of the government about the level of assistance actually provided and the priority given to aid for security matters in comparison to poverty alleviation and the effects of climate change in the Pacific region.

In addition, concern was expressed that developing countries will now be required to meet Australian government 'performance indicators' before they can receive additional aid. “This incentive based system suggests a worrying trend towards an aid program which only provides assistance to countries if they agree to reform their economies and governance structures in ways acceptable to the Australian government” a spokesman for Aid Watch said.

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