Policy Update

Opposition spokesman emphasizes development assistance as key to Australia’s regional engagement

As opposition spokesman for Australian development assistance, Labor's Pat Conroy provided the first major opposition statement on development spending since the May 2019 election. In a speech to the Australian Council for International Development conference, he emphasized that international development ought to be reframed as a collaborative enterprise in pursuit of shared regional and global interests. Australia, he said, is duty-bound to lift the world's poorest out of poverty.

Conroy indicated that the cumulative impact of the coalition government’s official development assistance (ODA) cuts is now so large that restoring the Australian assistance budget to its 2012- 20013 ODA-to-gross-national-income ratio would cost around US$2.3 billion per year.

He noted there were cogent security and national interest-based arguments for boosting Australia’s efforts but warned that Australia needs to avoid excessive “securitization” of development policy.

Speech transcript - Pat Conroy