Partisanship increasingly complicates Australian foreign policy and development assistance discussions

Speeches at the annual conference of the Australian Institute of International Affairs demonstrated the increasingly polarized partisan views on defense and development assistance. Australia’s overseas development and Pacific affairs minister, Alex Hawke, said Australia would maintain a "ruthless and pragmatic focus" on its interests. ASPI says Hawkes’ ministerial portfolio brings together defense and development assistance and that the government should see that development spending is the "soft end of defense".

Blog - Australian Strategic Policy Institute


Australian individuals rank highly in charitable giving; Australian government ranks ever-lower

The World Giving Index, compiled by the UK-based Charities Aid Fund, ranked Australia as the fourth most generous nation, behind the US, Myanmar, and New Zealand.  

However individual taxpayers gave away an average of only 0.42 percent of their taxable incomes to tax-deductible charities in 2016- 2017.  Between 2011 and 2017, the number of taxpayers donating to charities also fell by more than 400,000. The Australian government's foreign assistance has been reduced for the sixth year in a row. Australia is now ranked nineteenth out of twenty-nine donor countries.

News article - Sydney Morning Herald


Global Fund releases table showing total pledges by country

At its sixth replenishment conference in Lyon, France, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria raised a record-breaking US$14 billion in commitments from public and private donors, the largest amount of funding ever raised for a multilateral health organization. The Global Fund has since released a table showing the amounts pledged by each attendant.

Pledges at Global Fund Sixth Replenishment Conference - The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Australia increases Global Fund pledge to $163 million

Australian parliamentarian Warren Entsch announced in Lyon that Australia would pledge A242 million (US$163 million) for the three-year replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a 10% increase from Australia’s 2016 commitment.

News article - Devex

Australia Global health

Australia’s largest development assistance recipient faces independence referendum in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea

Bougainville, an Island group east of the Papua New Guinea mainland, will hold an independence referendum on November 23, 2019. This referendum was part of the peace agreement following a ten-year civil war that ended in 1998. This could have significant implications for Australian development assistance if a financially-dependent Bougainville emerges in the immediate region. Citizens of Bougainville are expected to vote overwhelmingly for autonomous statehood.

Analysis - The Lowy Institute


DFAT report calls for significant changes in Australian assistance to Papua New Guinea

An Aid Program Performance Report by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has proposed that Australia overhaul its approach to delivering development assistance to Papua New Guinea (PNG). The report states that additional assistance is necessary, and proposes less reliance on technical advisers and increased support for reformers seeking change in PNG. The review noted that law and order challenges and widespread corruption continue to hold back service delivery in areas outside the national capital, Port Moresby.

News article - The Australian


Former prime minister calls for bipartisan approach to Australian development assistance

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Julia Gillard called for Australian political parties to adopt a bipartisan policy of support for Australian development assistance. Speaking as Chair of the Global Partnership for Education, she pointed to the strong ODA performance of the UK as an example of such bipartisan commitment. By comparison, Australia's development spending has been significantly reduced in the past five years.

Gillard was the Australian Prime Minister for three years beginning in June 2010.

News article - The Sydney Morning Herald


Dengue "virtually eradicated" in far northern Queensland

Scientists at the World Mosquito Program have published research indicating that transmission of dengue fever has been "virtually eradicated" from the Cairns area in Australia, due to the introduction in 2011 of the Wolbachia bacterium, which reduces dengue transmission from mosquitos to humans.

Breeding programs to introduce Wolbachia are now being implemented in ten other countries, and are seen as potential models for treatments for the treatment of other mosquito-borne illnesses, such as Zika. The Wolbachia research project was supported by a US$34 million (A$50 million) grant from the Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and by Australia’s DFAT.

News article - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Policy paper discusses modernization of Australia's agricultural research and development

Australia's minister for agriculture, Bridget McKenzie, has published a discussion paper on ideas to modernize Australia’s domestic agriculture research and development corporations (RDCs). 

Senator McKenzie's paper discusses cross-sectoral issues faced by the agriculture sector and how research centres can increase their collaboration to address them. While  RDCs are primarily focused on Australian agriculture, the terms of reference also ask how RDCs can encourage investment in the research system from the private sector and from international partners. 

Press release - Australian Department of Agriculture

Australia Agriculture

Four multilateral replenishments may stretch Australia's capped assistance budget to breaking point

Australia faces a major budgetary challenge in maintaining support to large multilateral funds. The next replenishment rounds for the World Bank (IDA); Global Fund against AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; Gavi the Global Vaccine Alliance; and the Asian Development Bank's concessional fund (ADF) all require Australian pledges within the next twelve months.

However, Australia's aid budget has been cut by 27% since the 2012- 2013 financial year.  It is now capped at A$4 billion (US$2.7 billion) and is currently not being adjusted for inflation. In addition, the government is increasing its bilateral spending in the Pacific. Development assistance budget cuts have been achieved through major reductions in programs in  Africa and Asia; an increase on Australia's official development assistance (ODA) is likely necessary to avoid further dismantling of country programs in Asia or reductions in multilateral contributions.

Blog - Australian National University Development Policy Centre

Australia Global health