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Friday, 6 December 1985
Page: 3239

(Question No. 604)

Senator Chipp asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 9 October:

(1) Does the Government acknowledge that there has been a decrease in real terms in the level of overseas aid in the 1985-86 Budget.

(2) How does the Government reconcile its stated objective of 0.7 per cent of GNP for overseas aid with the fact that for the second year in a row the Government has moved further away from that target.

(3) Will the Government give an assurance that this negative trend will not continue next financial year.

Senator Gareth Evans —The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The level of overseas aid provided for in the 1985-86 Budget represents a decrease of about 5% in real terms over the level of overseas aid provided in 1984-85.

(2) and (3) In my ministerial statement to the Parliament on 28 November, I confirmed that the Government continues to accept the commitment to work towards achieving the allocation of 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) on official development assistance (ODA), despite the fact that we are enduring highly sensitive economic circumstances. I also emphasised the Government's overriding commitment to responsible domestic economic management and the inescapable need, in these economic circumstances, to keep Australia's overseas aid program within stringent limits. For these reasons, the aid program, in ODA/GNP terms, has suffered a decline in the past two financial years.

Nevertheless, as I also announced to Parliament, the Government recently decided that the real level of overseas aid would rise each year in future. In implementing its decision in the context of annual budgets, the Government will take into account both the needs of developing countries and Australia's own economic circumstances and capacity to assist.