CONSTITUENCY STATEMENTS; Fowler Electorate: International Development Assistance

October 18, 2018

Mr HAYES (FowlerChief Opposition Whip) (10:00): Recently, I hosted a Fowler Labor for Aid forum, with the aim of promoting productive discussion on Australia's current foreign aid contribution. Notable speakers for the night were: Sabrin Farooqui, a Western Sydney Labor for Aid representative; Wayne Gum and Joy Kyriacou, from Oxfam; as well as Kate Lee from APHEDA. It was extremely encouraging to see so many people from my electorate turn up to this function and express their concerns about Australia's current contributions to assisting developing countries as well as the strategies employed by the current government. They all believe that we can be doing more. My electorate in Fowler, as you know, Madam Deputy Speaker Vamvakinou, is one of the most diverse and multicultural in the whole of Australia. Therefore, it's only fair, I think, that electorates like mine are concerned about the significant drop in our foreign aid contribution.

In an ordinarily difficult field of work, organisations such as Oxfam and APHEDA must cooperate with foreign governments and organisations, overseas unions et cetera to ensure that the money allocated to foreign aid is being spent properly and productively. This has been made more difficult as a result of the current Liberal government's lack of generosity to underdeveloped countries. Australia has committed to ending extreme poverty by 2030, a commitment that was made together with the international community to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. However, the current Liberal government has shown that it does not take this commitment seriously, as it has slashed $11.3 billion from our overseas international development assistance budget.

At the forum, it was highlighted by both Wayne and Kate that Australia's current aid contribution amounts to 0.22 per cent of our gross national income—a figure that is far too low in comparison with our global commitment to reach the UN spending target of 0.7 per cent. As a generous and caring nation, with our provision of international development assistance, it is crucial that our foreign policy remains consistent with Australia's values and our national interest. The discussion that took place at the Labor For Aid forum made one thing clear: when it comes to helping those in need across the globe, we can and must do better.