Lowy Institute commentator urges Australia to ensure infrastructure loans to the Pacific target poverty alleviation

Writing for the Lowy Institute, Tim Watkin argues that Australia’s new A$2 billion (US$1.4 billion) loans program for infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific should be designed from the outset to serve poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Risk ratings by the IMF and the Asian Development Bank indicate that 10 countries in the Pacific are already in high or moderate debt distress. He points to the Papua New Guinea electrification partnership, a collaboration between Japan, New Zealand, the US, and Australia, as an example of planning that is focused on training for local communities and employment generation.

Blog - The Lowy Institute  

Australia Education

Lowy Institute article considers new Australian Office of the Pacific important in coordinating regional development policy

James Batley of the Lowy Institute analyses the new Australian Office of the Pacific, which was announced by Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison in November 2018.  The office, located within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), will liaise and advocate with Pacific island governments, and other players such as multilateral development agencies.

The office's second role will focus on project management and coordination among Australian government stakeholders with an interest in the Pacific. Batley expects the latter role will be the most consequential. It will involve oversight over two new major components of Australia's engagement in the Pacific, include rolling out a new US$1.5 billion (A$2 billion) infrastructure facility, and a multi-donor commitment to help provide access to electricity for 70% of  Papua New Guinea's population by 2030.

Blog post - The Interpreter


Australia's foreign minister reaffirms commitment to action with US on regional health security

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has reiterated Australia’s commitment to health security with the US in the Indo-Pacific. Speaking at the United States Studies Centre Event in Washington DC, she said the two countries were committed to advancing implementation of the Global Health Security Agenda pursued by the United States and the Health Security Initiative for the Indo- Pacific undertaken by Australia. 

Health security was one of four key shared initiatives discussed during  the AUSMIN (Australia-USA Ministerial) Meeting in 2018. Australia and the US were working together to help build health security workforces in regional nations  to provide capacity to detect and respond to emerging infectious disease outbreaks.

Press release - DFAT

Former development minister criticizes Australia’s proposed infrastructure loans for South Pacific

Former minister for international development and the Pacific, Senator Fierravanti-Wells, has criticized the recently announced A$2 billion (US$1.4 billion) Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility (AIFFP). Through the facility the Australian government plans to provide grants and long-term loans for infrastructure in the Pacific.

Fierravanti-Wells indicated concerns that some South Pacific countries already have debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratios of up to 90%. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reportedly rejected these concerns.

News article - ABC


Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne announces A$4.5 million for vaccine development

Marise Payne, foreign affairs minister of Australia, has announced a new contribution of official development assistance (ODA) to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) for vaccine development to fight infectious diseases.

The A$4.5 million (US$3.3 million) contribution is additional to a A$2 million (US$1.5 million) contribution financed by the Medical Research Future Fund in 2017. The new contribution comes from the Australian government's A$300 million (US$223 million) Health Security Initiative for the Indo-Pacific.

Media release - DFAT

ANU Development Policy Centre studies advocacy approaches for development assistance

Terence Wood of the Australian National University (ANU) conducted a study on what types of appeal increase public support for development assistance. The outcome of his survey experiment suggests that appealing to the national interest, for example by suggesting that development assistance will reduce the spread of epidemics to Australia, appears to have had the largest effect. However, providing people with details about what assistance is achieving, and with an endorsement from an independent expert, was enough to have a generally positive impact on levels of public support.

Blog post - ANU Development Policy Centre


Australian opposition Labor Party vows to rebuild ODA level should it win election

The Australian opposition Labor Party has adopted a policy to rebuild Australia's official development assistance (ODA) level. Should it win government in the 2019 federal election, Labor has pledged to increase the ODA to gross national income (GNI) ratio each year. The party's national conference adopted a target ratio of 0.5% ODA/GNI, but without a specific timescale. The current ODA level has fallen to a historic low of 0.22%.

News article - Australian Financial Review


Positive evaluation of disability inclusion in Australia's development cooperation

Australia was the first donor country to have a strategy to make development assistance deliberately inclusive of people with disabilities. Now half-way through its second strategy, in which Australia aims to strengthen its approach to disability-inclusive development, the Office of Development Effectiveness, an independent evaluation committee, has completed an evaluation of Australia's progress in this area. 

The evaluation finds that generally good progress has been made. It notes that inclusion has been achieved through a twin-track approach with both mainstreaming and disability-specific activities. Key enabling factors included a sustained effort, starting small, gradually scaling up, and then maintaining a focus on disability for many years. The report also identified substantial opportunities to improve inclusion in education investments, in humanitarian assistance, and in infrastructure for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).

Evaluation - DFAT

Australia Global Education

Former Australian foreign affairs ministers call for increase in Australian development assistance

Gareth Evans and Bob Carr, two former Australian foreign affairs ministers in Labor Party governments have called on the Labor Party to commit to an international development assistance target of 0.7% of gross national income (GNI).  Evans believes that Labor needs to strengthen Australia's role in promoting development. A 'Labor for Aid' group has called on the party's annual conference, commencing on December 16, 2018, to commit to the 0.7% target.

Media report - The Guardian Australia


Australian government confirms DFAT to administer concessional loan program for infrastructure in the Pacific

Senator Anne Ruston, Australia's assistant minister for international development and the Pacific, has announced the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) will administer the recently announced A$2 billion (US$1.5 billion) Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific. Finance sector expertise is expected to be contracted in to run the program.

News article - The Australian