Will ScoMo’s Pacific step up be an aid budget step back?
Scott Morrison has broken his Prime Ministerial silence on aid this week, in an ‘exclusive’ interview with the Daily Telegraph and a significant speech on the Pacific.
On Wednesday, Morrison spoke to the Tele’s Sharri Markson about his vision for the aid program, which is decidedly anti-multilateral but pro-sports.
“Why do we want to be in a race to spend lots of money badly?” he asked rhetorically in the interview, slighting the NGO sector and seemingly forgetting that the aid budget is now at historic lows as a percentage of Gross National Income.
The article confirmed there would be no increases to aid under his government. It’s worth remembering that Morrison’s maiden speech in Parliament in 2008 sung the praises of aid and called for its increase, noting that addressing global poverty was “a moral crisis that eclipses all other.” His tone in the Tele couldn’t have been more different.
The story did however suggest that more aid would be allocated to “sports diplomacy”: a pursuit of questionable development utility – at least insofar as poverty alleviation is concerned – and one to which Australia’s profitable sports codes could surely make some sort of financial contribution.
Multilateral organisations were broadly criticised, but there were no specific details on which ones might face a cut. The PM even suggested that the Coalition government has already been diverting aid funds away from multilaterals:
“…what we’ve done in it is to focus it more and more and get it away from all these international club joining exercises which I’ve always thought was pretty useless.”
To be clear, this isn’t the case. Since 2013-14 the percentage of Australian aid delivered through multilaterals has increased. His comments suggest that the multilaterals will be exposed if there are any further cuts – or to fund new Pacific infrastructure spending, on …read more