TSL: Senator writes op-ed on Australian approach to development assistance

Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister, Senator Penny Wong, has written an op-ed on quality of development assistance and gender equity, focused on the Pacific. In this she emphasized the need for more to be done through the Australian development program to address structural impediments to equity. Wong highlighted the need for aid to create an enabling environment, particularly in health and education, quoting the high maternal death rates in the Pacific and Timor Lest, the effect of the USA’s Global Gag Rule, and the high rates of cervical cancer in the region.

Wong concluded that the eradication of gender inequality would be a hallmark of a future Labour government’s approach to development assistance.

Op-ed - Lowy Institute 


Researcher advocates for professionalizing aid advocacy

Research Officer at the Australian National University’s Development Policy Centre, Jonathan Pryke, has called for a new approach to advocacy for development funding. As part of the 2018 Australasian Aid Conference's “3-Minute Aid Pitch”, Pryke inquired into claims about inefficiency of advocacy and proposed professional advocates be used to centralize and improve the effectiveness of lobbying the Australian political elite.

Pryke referenced the continuing cuts to Australian development assistance and highlighted tensions between focusing on public attitudes to funding versus focusing on parliamentary decision-makers.

Video – Devpolicy


Australia’s Foreign Minister holds speech on gender equality for International Women’s Day

In anticipation of International Women’s Day, taking place on March 8, Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop spoke on the challenge of gender equality in the Pacific. She noted that Papua New Guinea, with 100 members in Parliament, has no female representatives. In the Pacific overall only 7% of parliamentarians are female, with the global average being approximately 24%. Bishop reiterated that empowerment of women was a key pillar in Australia’s development programming in the Pacific. This included support for more female leadership, empowerment of women in economic terms, and confronting domestic violence.

Speech - Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade 


New Zealand to increase ODA to the Pacific

New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters, has signaled a re-energized approach to development assistance in the Pacific. Speaking in Sydney at the Lowy Institute, Peters emphasized the importance of joint efforts by New Zealand and Australia in emergency responses.

He also indicated that New Zealand directs approximately 60% of its development spending to the Pacific, but that development spending had declined in comparative terms over the last nine years, falling from 0.3% ODA/GNI in 2008 to 0.25% in 2016. Over the term of the current government he undertook to reverse this decline and expand the ODA program to assist Pacific neighbors.

The increase would enable an increased focus on sectors promoting New Zealand values, including good governance, human rights, and women’s empowerment.

Speech - Lowy Institute 


Lowy Institute publishes outcomes of Emerging Leaders Dialogue

Following the fifth annual Australia-Papua New Guinea Emerging Leaders Dialogue, hosted by the Lowy Institute in December 2017, the institute has published a draft outcomes document. The event aims to build links between the two states, and the 2017 Dialogue centered on 5 key areas, including health and economic growth. The health agenda focused on improving sexual health programs and the development of public–private partnerships with mobile providers to improve health services.

Outcomes report - Lowy Institute 


Progress in reducing drug-resistant TB in Western Province of Papua New Guinea

An op-ed from the Lowy Institute in Australia has highlighted progress made by Australia's efforts in Papua New Guinea to reduce multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) in the Western Province. Australia has spent almost A$39 million (US$29 million) on addressing the spread of TB in the southern part of this province.

Nonetheless, due to difficulties in geographic access to the province, healthcare system weaknesses, poor nutrition, and insufficient provincial health budgets, problems are predicted to continue. 

Op-ed - Lowy Institute 

Australia Global health

New 10-year strategy for Australian agricultural research announced

Australian Foreign Affairs’ Minister Julie Bishop has announced the launch of a 10-year strategy for the Australian government’s specialist agricultural research agency, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). ACIAR, which is focused on assisting developing countries, works through research partnerships across the Indo-Pacific region and in Africa. 

Six core areas are listed in the strategy: food security, natural resource management and responses to climate change, improved human nutrition and health, empowerment of women and girls, inclusive agriculture and forestry market chains, and building science capacity in the Asia-Pacific region.

The new strategy also outlines  more scholarship support for future female research leaders and a more interactive online presence.

Press release - Australian government 

Australia Agriculture

Evaluation of Australia’s investment in PDPs supports TB and malaria as priorities

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has released a review of its experience with product development partnerships (PDPs). It found that tuberculosis- (TB) and malaria-focused PDPs continue to be a priority. The TB Alliance; FIND, an international non-profit organisation that enables diagnostic tests for poverty-related diseases; and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) were considered sound investment decisions.

The evaluation recommends Australia continue to focus on TB and malaria diagnostics and medicines and invest in vector control. DFAT management agreed with all 5 recommendations of the review.

Evaluation document – DFAT

Management response – DFAT

Australia’s opposition party supports higher ODA levels

The Australian Labor Party's spokeswoman on foreign affairs, Senator Penny Wong, gave a speech on Labor’s likely future approach to international development cooperation at the 2018 Australasian Aid Conference.  The Senator reiterated that should the Labor party win the next election and form a government, it would seek to increase Australia’s ODA funding. She did not specify the scale.

The speech indicated that Labor favors a stronger focus on the Sustainable Development Goals and emphasized the importance of the health and education sectors, specifically regarding maternal health, family planning, and nutrition.

Speech – Senator Penny Wong


Australia contributes A$70 million to Global Partnership for Education

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has announced a contribution of A$90 million (US$67 million) to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). Bishop noted that the GPE had allocated over A$1 billion (US$743 million) since 2015 in support of children’s education in countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

Australia’s former prime minister, Julia Gillard, is chair of the GPE board. Advocacy for GPE included a Twitter appeal by singer Rihanna to the prime minister of Australia to support girl’s education by donating to the GPE.

The commitment was part of the 2018 to 2020 financing cycle for the GPE. Total donor commitments reached US$2.3 billion.

Press release – Foreign Minister 

Australia Education