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Australian Foreign Affairs Minister announces consultation process to guide new Australian development policy

Australia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne, and Alex Hawke, Minister for Overseas Development and the Pacific, have announced consultation arrangements on new international development policy. Input is sought from members of the public, the development community, partners, and stakeholders in Australia and overseas. These submissions close on January 31, 2020, and are limited to a maximum of five pages.

An expert panel has been announced to advise Ministers and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the development of the new policy and associated performance framework. The six members have backgrounds in foreign assistance, diplomacy, overseas trade, and NGO work. The Chair, Dennis Richardson was previously Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Secretary of the Department of Defence.

Government website: DFAT

Australia

Foreign relations experts call for increase in Australia's development assistance and diplomacy budgets

Twenty-five of Australia’s experts in international relations are participating in a newly-established 'Asia-Pacific Development, Diplomacy, and Defence Dialogue'. The chairs of the Dialogue have called on the Australian government to refocus on areas in Asia after cuts in funding were made there in order to focus on Australia’s 'Pacific step up'.  Experts were also concerned that Australia's diplomatic and development budgets have fallen from a total of 1.5% of the federal budget to 1.3% in the past six years.

News article - The Age

Australia

Australia to cease bilateral development assistance to Pakistan in favor of Pacific recipients

The Australian government plans to cease all bilateral development assistance to Pakistan in 2020- 2021. The resources will instead be used for support to the Pacific. Australia will continue assistance to Pakistan through its regional and global programs, including in-Australia scholarships.

The cessation of bilateral development assistance was flagged in the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Aid Program Performance Report on Pakistan for 2018- 2019.  The current bilateral program includes support for poor women and girls, reproductive health services, and gender-based anti-violence assistance. In addition, the program focused on improved water, food, and economic security,  and supporting stabilization and resilience. Australia provided US$27 million (A$39 million) in bilateral funding to Pakistan in 2018- 2019.

News article - Sydney Morning Herald

Aid Program Performance Report on Pakistan - DFAT

Australia Agriculture Nutrition

Program for 2020 Australasian Aid Conference is now available

The annual Australasian Aid Conference will be held on February 17- 19, 2020, organized by the Australian National University’s Development Policy Centre in partnership with the Asia Foundation.   

The program covers a wide range of sectors. Keynote speakers include Lant Pritchett of the Blavatnik School of Government and Oxford University on the difficult dynamics of deals, and Radhika Coomaraswamy, human rights activist, on women, peace, and security.

Conference site - ANU Development Policy Centre

Australia provides low-interest loan of US$300 million to Papua New Guinea for core services and budget repair

Australia's minister for international development and the Pacific, Alex Hawke, announced that the Australian government will lend $US300 million (A$440 million) to Papua New Guinea (PNG). This will assist PNG's government continuing delivery of core services and enable the country to prepare for longer-term economic reforms.

The loan will be provided through Export Finance Australia at a concessional rate of 2.5%. It will not draw funding from Australia’s ODA budget.

News article - DFAT

News article - Pngfacts

Australia

Australia pledges US$10 million for polio eradication

At the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) replenishment meeting in Abu Dhabi on November 19, 2019, Australia committed A$15 million (US$10 million) over three years through 2023.

The conference raised a total of US$2.6 billion overall. The largest pledge came from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for a total of US$1.1 billion, with the UK following in second place at US$515 million.

News article - Devex

Pledging table - GPEI

Australia Global health

Australia to refresh objectives of its overseas development assistance program

Alex Hawke, Australia's minister for overseas development and the Pacific has said that Australia will review the objectives of its overseas development assistance program, including policy statements last updated in 2013. Overseas development assistance bodies have welcomed the news of the review.

The update is expected to consider the geographic focus of Australia's development assistance program, including shifting focus away from Asia. Hawke indicated that the review won't examine increasing Australia’s total ODA, currently around US$2.7 billion (A$4 billion) a year.

Media Report: ABC Australia

Australia

Australian scientist honoured for work to analysing DNA of malaria

Head of the Melbourne-based Burnett Institute, Professor Brendan Crabb, has been recognized with the GSK Award for Research Excellence. The award recognized Crabb’s research into the DNA of the malaria parasite, which enabled a better understanding of malaria prevention and treatments.

Media report: SBS

Australia announces membership of the Blue Dot Network

The Australian Government has joined with the US and Japan in a Blue Dot Network to promote high-quality standards for global infrastructure development. They will provide technical expertise to  potential investors in new projects, particularly  in the Indo-Pacific region. The Network was announced at an event held beside the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit, held  in Thailand.

News article - ABC Australia

Australia Japan United States

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

Australia