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Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Page: 5000


Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (14:18): My question is to the Acting Prime Minister. What role will Australia play in Afghanistan's long-term development?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:19): I thank the member for Melbourne Ports for that very important question, because the stability and security of Afghanistan is firmly in the interests of our region and our country. As the Prime Minister has said, we are on track to complete the transition in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. After the transition, Afghanistan will have responsibility for its own security. Of course, the nature of Australia's engagement in Afghanistan will change, but our commitment to development and stability in Afghanistan will remain. That is why the Prime Minister has worked directly with world leaders—the US President and others—to make sure that we get in place a plan for the future. That is why the Prime Minister has also met with the Afghan President and signed a new partnership agreement between our two nations. This is a very clear demonstration of Australia's long-term commitment to supporting Afghanistan's security, development and governance following transition.

Of course, we are committed to lifting living standards in one of the poorest countries in the world, and we will also be in full support of efforts to combat transnational threats such as terrorism and narcotics. There will also be greater commercial engagement between our two countries. This partnership will be backed up with a commitment to see our aid increase substantially between now and 2015-16. There will be a commitment to increase our aid from $165 million a year to $250 million a year. As we are already doing, we will be building more schools, more infrastructure and more health and education services. This new partnership will provide the assistance that Afghanistan requires for its future development, and it certainly does build on the very substantial foreign aid that we are providing right across our region and across the globe. Our aid budget is a reflection of our commitment to assist with the development of the world's poorest nations, and with this new agreement we will continue to do that.