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Budget 2008: Budget undermines Australia's role on the world stage.



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Wed, 14th May 2008

BUDGET UNDERMINES AUSTRALIA'S ROLE ON THE WORLD STAGE

The Hon Andrew Robb AO MP Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs (to 22 September 2008)

Only weeks after Mr Rudd has got back from his world wide journey telling everyone that Australia will be more engaged, that Australia is back on the world stage and that Australia will be a ''creative middle-power activist'', Mr Rudd has revealed that the government will cut over 300 jobs that carry out exactly this work.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) portfolio Budget Statement (Paper 1.9, page 25) the Government is cutting 305 jobs from the section of the Department whose ''outcomes reflect the department's primary responsibility for developing and implementing foreign and trade policies on matters of international security, trade policy and global cooperation that advances Australia's national interests''.

''This shows that many of the claims made by Mr Rudd and Mr Smith ring hollow,'' the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Andrew Robb AO MP, said today.

''When Mr Rudd was in the USA he said he wanted to engage more with the US and the UN - but now he is cutting the staff numbers.

''When Mr Rudd was in Brussels, he said he wanted to engage more with the EU and to resolve the Doha Free Trade talks - but now he is cutting the staff numbers.

''When Mr Rudd was at NATO he said he wanted to be more engaged on an overall strategy on Afghanistan - but now he is cutting the staff numbers.

''When the Foreign Minister was in Korea and Japan last week he said he wanted to maintain and advance relationships with both countries - but now he is cutting the staff numbers.

''Mr Rudd has said he wants Australia to be more involved with the Pacific; he wants Australia more involved with Asia and he wants Australia involved in future six-party security talks - but now he is cutting the staff numbers.

''Mr Rudd has even said he was serious about stopping Japanese whaling - but now he is cutting the staff numbers AND the funding.

''The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is already a very lean organization. To cut staff numbers by over 13% in the Department's primary area of responsibility must seriously compromise Australia's foreign policy priorities,'' Mr Robb said.