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Autralia's reputation at stake



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P A R L I A M E N T O F A U S T R A L I A · THE SENATE

SENATOR VICKI BOURNE Australian Democrat Senator for New South Wales

17 September 1992 PR NO 92/501

NEWS RELEASE

AUSTRALIA’S REPUTATION AT STAKE

The Australian Democrats have warned the Federal Government that Australia's reputation as a humanitarian nation is under serious threat unless there is a stronger commitment to overseas aid.

Speaking at today's Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA) Seminar in Parliament House, the Democrats Spokesperson on Overseas Development, Senator Vicki Bourne, said: "Successive Liberal and Labor Governments have consistently slashed Australia's aid budget over the last 25 years. The cuts have been particularly

severe in the Hawke/Keating years".

"We are now at the stage where this country's overseas aid budget is at historically low levels. Australia currently sets aside only 0.36% of its GNP which is significantly down on the level of 0.49% of GNP when the ALP took office in 1983. This lack of compassion is a trend which has unfortunately creeped into a number of important

policy areas including overseas aid".

"Under this Labor Government, Australia has fallen well behind other developed nations in terms of assisting the poorer nations of the world at a time when demand for third world development and humanitarian assistance is increasing. Incredibly the Liberal Party is also committed to cutting aid if it wins the next election".

"These funding cuts demonstrate poor forward planning in Australia's relations with the developing countries particularly our neighbours in the Pacific region. There is good reason for these countries to question Australia's commitment to the region if Australia continues to ignore development needs in the area".

The Australian Democrats have also given their strong support to ACFOA's campaign to re-shape the nature of Australia's aid program. Senator Bourne said: "The priorities in third world development are changing and Australia must be respond to this by sponsoring aid projects which focus on women, refugees, rural development and environmental issues".

FOR FU RTH ER INFORMATION PLEASE PHONE SENATOR BOURNE 06 277 3820 (w) or 06 297 3830 (h)

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