MR: decision to delay foreign aid increases short sighted

14 May 2013

Media Releases 2013

The decision by the Federal Government to delay increases in foreign aid is short-sighted, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).

SPA says it is particularly perverse as a response to the costs of housing asylum seekers as it is only likely to increase the flow of refugees.

SPA National President, Ms Jenny Goldie, says poverty and high population growth rates lead to political turmoil in many countries, usually because there are insufficient resources and jobs for people.

“Asylum seekers understandably leave such countries yet would be less likely to risk their lives to come here were there peace and security at home,” says Ms Goldie. “Well-directed foreign aid can help relieve poverty in these source countries. Integral to poverty-relief, of course, is good family planning facilities so population growth can be minimised.”

“Not only should the overall foreign aid budget be increased, but far more money must be directed to family planning within the foreign aid budget as well as to other measures that reduce population growth rates, such as such as girls’ education,” she says.

Ms Goldie says the argument to delay foreign aid increases because of the cost of housing asylum seekers must be put into perspective.

“Australia’s present total foreign aid program costs about $5 billion. Were we not spending $1.1 million on boat arrivals we could increase our foreign aid program by more than 20 per cent.

“Unless the Government reconsiders its position as a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Australia will be a magnet for those seeking to escape poverty and conflict,” says Ms Goldie. “Other than getting out of the Convention, the only solution is to try and reduce poverty and conflict in source countries through diplomacy and increased foreign aid.”

Further information: Jenny Goldie 0401 921 453

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