Aid, deep thinking, and national security
Prior to coming in to Government Julie Bishop, possibly softening us up for future budget cuts, often said that quality matters over quantity when it comes to aid expenditure. It is hard to argue with this logic.
It seems clear that the Government has comprehensively delivered on its commitment to reduce the quantity of aid, even if they still have further to go. While this concerns many people, we also need to focus on the other half of the equation – have they delivered on increased quality? Should we be optimistic that our aid resources, while they are scarcer, are having a bigger impact?
For those of us that are passionate supporters of international development and the role that effective aid programs can play, it has been a very tough few years, with the abolition of AusAID, large budget cuts in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 budgets, and the departure of many ex-AusAID staff following the integration with DFAT.
However, there are signs that aid quality still matters a lot to DFAT.
The June 2014 Aid Policy Framework seems to have been implemented reasonably consistently. The higher priority given to women and girls, innovation, and support for economic growth, all of which should be applauded, has translated into increased allocations to those sectors. The 2017-18 budget has maintained these investments.
In September 2015 the Coalition Government appointed a dedicated Minister for International Development and the Pacific. This is only the second time in Australia’s history that development has had a dedicated Minister. The assumption is that greater dedicated leadership to development issues and more time to advocate for development programs at a political level will result in a stronger program that better resonates with Australian taxpayers.
Staffing anxieties within DFAT also seem to have settled down. Many ex-AusAID staff have flourished in the new integrated department and …read more