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Telecommunications project emphasizes value of Australia's development program, says Tim Costello of World Vision

Tim Costello, chief advocate for World Vision Australia, writes that Australia's commitment to build an undersea internet cable between Australia, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea highlights the importance of development assistance. In particular, this investment will play a role in maintaining Australian influence in the Pacific region, says Costello.

News article - The Guardian Australia

Australia

DFAT review raises concerns about Australia's development program in two PNG sectors

Ben Packham has written that the Australian government has concerns about the quality of its development program in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Components in the governance and human development sectors were rated poorly against their objectives in an annual review conducted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). 

Australia's FY2018-19 development assistance budget includes A$541 million (US$402 million) for PNG.

News article - The Australian

Detailed assessments of the 2018 Australian and New Zealand ODA budgets

Professor Stephen Howes from the Australian National University (ANU) has published an assessment of the Australian ODA budget for 2018-2019. Howes assesses the amount of potential decline in Australia’s ODA. Terence Wood, also from the ANU Development Policy Centre, analyzed the scale of New Zealand’s  development assistance budget. New Zealand has announced substantial increases over the next four years.

Blog  - ANU Development Policy Centre (Australia)

Blog  - ANU Development Policy Centre (New Zealand)

Australia

Australia appoints new Ambassador for Regional Health Security

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has announced that Peter Versegi has been appointed the next Ambassador for Regional Health Security. She emphasized the role of the ambassador in assisting the development of new drugs and diagnostics, as well as partnerships to build robust health systems to respond to regional-health crises. Versegi is an experienced senior official in Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), with a background in bilateral assistance, development policy, advising the Western Pacific’s  executive director in the World Bank, and managing DFAT’s evaluation office.

Press release - DFAT

ChildFund Australia report finds that maternal death rates in PNG are increasing

A report by non-governmental organization ChildFund Australia, entitled 'National Health Crisis: Maternal Deaths in Papua New Guinea', finds that Papua New Guinea (PNG) is one of the world's worst places to be a mother. A woman is 35 times more likely to die during pregnancy there than in Australia, despite the country being the largest recipient of Australian development assistance.

In the past, development support from Australia has specifically targeted health system strengthening. Nigel Spence, ChildFund's chief executive, said that although Australian development spending had not always achieved the desired results, Australia "has the means and the technology to do much more".

News report - Sydney Morning Herald

Australia Global health

ASPI article recommends Australia provides integration support to Pacific as well as development assistance

Journalist Graham Dobell has written on the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) website about Australia’s development assistance to the Pacific. He observes that a growing proportion of the development program is budgeted to go to the Pacific at the same time as Australia’s total official development assistance (ODA) budget has been heavily cut. He reflects on the need to go beyond development assistance and to focus on closer economic and security integration of the South Pacific islands with Australia and New Zealand.

Website - ASPI

Australia

Indonesian terrorism and reduced Australian development assistance

The Australian Financial Review has reported on the importance of Australia’s development assistance to Indonesia at a time when the Australian government is reducing its support to the country. Although Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries have recently signed a cooperation agreement with Australia to receive technical assistance for anti-terror activities, the development assistance budget to Indonesia has been reduced by 10%. The article notes that the Australian government has argued that Indonesia's relationship with Australia was changing due to recent strong economic growth.

News article - Australian Financial Review

Australia Education

Australian international development council criticizes development budget cuts

Marc Purcell, CEO of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), has criticized the fiscal year (FY) 2018-19 Australian Federal budget for including further cuts of A$141 million (US$105 million) to ODA. Referring to the budget as "morally wrong and strategically short-sighted", he said Australian development spending would drop to 0.19% as a proportion of GNI by FY2021-22. While he welcomed the increase in development assistance in the Pacific, he criticized the lack of focus on the SDGs.

Media release - ACFID

Australia

Australian FY2018-19 development assistance budget remains steady

Australia’s Treasurer, Scott Morrison, delivered Australia's national budget on 8 May. Total Australian official development assistance (ODA) for financial year (FY) 2018-19 will be A$4.2 billion (US$3.1 billion).  This is similar to the FY2017-18 budget level, with a temporary  increase to cover ODA-eligible contributions  to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Assistance to the Pacific is set to increase to A$1.3 billion (US$967 million). This includes two-thirds of the cost of building a high-speed fibre-optic cable between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, with a connection to Australia. Funding for key sectors, including agriculture, health, and education, remains close to FY2017-18 levels, as do contributions to multilateral health and education funds.

News site  – Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Performance report on Australian development program 2016-17 published

The Australian government’s Office of Development Effectiveness has released annual performance assessments for the Australian development program for the period fiscal year (FY) 2016-17. The report reviews progress of the government’s policy and performance frameworks, reviewing national, regional, and global programs, and measuring progress against Australia's strategic targets.

The report finds that nine out of ten strategic targets were met by the end of FY2016-17. The Independent Evaluation Committee welcomed the report's transparency, and the increased number of evaluations presented in the report. 

Report - DFAT

Australia