Australian opposition party promises additional US$345 million in ODA in lead-up to federal elections

Penny Wong, the Australian Labor Party's Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, announced planned ODA commitments if the Labor party wins in the upcoming federal elections on May 21, 2022. 

Wong committed to increasing Australia's focus on Southeast Asia including through an additional A$470 million (US$345 million) in ODA over 4 years. She also said Australia would appoint a special ambassador to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

Wong did not indicate a sectoral focus or specific objectives for the additional ODA but said Labor would establish an Office of Southeast Asia within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). This office would be similar to the existing Office of the Pacific within DFAT.

The Australian Labor Party already committed to spending an additional A$525 million (US$388 million) in development assistance over 4 years in the Pacific; the additional commitment announced by Wong was welcomed by the civil society sector.

Previously, Wong also indicated that Australia would adopt a First Nations foreign policy.

 The Greens, a smaller opposition party, have indicated they would aim to increase Australian development assistance to 0.7% ODA/GNI by 2030 – effectively tripling Australia’s ODA expenditure in 8 years. The Greens would focus development policy on global justice and human rights, not on national security. They provided little indication of the sectoral or geographic focus of the proposed increase in ODA.

While the Greens will not be able to form Australia's next government due to its small size, its status as a minority party could be influential if neither of the two main parties win an outright majority in the Australian House of Representatives; the two major parties could look for coalition partners like the Greens. 

News article - Sydney Morning Herald

News article - Sky News

News article - Mirage News

Report - Development Policy Centre