Policy Updates

Displaying 1 - 20 of 514

Recent analysis predicts shape of Australia's development programming in 2025

An analysis of Australia's current policy trends suggests that by 2025, Australia's main ODA recipients will be countries in the Pacific, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Australia's sectoral focus will likely center on health, education, and agriculture. Although there will be a continuing tension between pursuing short-term investments and longer-term country partnership programs, the analysis suggests that there will be an expansion of the use of local partners in Australian development programs.

The authors of this paper suggest that to effectively execute its development vision, Australia will need more senior staff in-country and a greater number of specialists and policy-oriented senior staff overall.

Working paper - Abt Associates

Despite economic impact of COVID-19, Australians' support for ODA spending has remained steady, survey finds

Results from the Australian National University Development Policy Centre’s annual survey found that 36% of Australians believe the level of Australia's spending on development assistance is about right, 18% believe it is not enough, and 37% believe that Australia gives too much.

There has been very little change in Australians' overall support for international development since 2015, despite the recent economic downturn caused by COVID-19. While this year's survey did register a small increase in the proportion of Australians that think Australia gives too little development assistance, the change is very close to the margin of error.

Blog - Development Policy Centre

Donor Tracker to host webinar on donors’ international COVID-19 response following Global Goal Summit pledges

On July 2, 2020, from 16:00-17:00 (CEST), Donor Tracker will host a second webinar on donor countries’ international COVID-19 responses following the Global Goal Summit. The Summit, held on June 27, raised US$6.9 billion for developing globally accessible COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments.

The Donor Tracker's expert team will analyze the Summit's outcomes and discuss implications for donor countries’ further international responses to the pandemic.

Registration - Zoom 

Australia’s Foreign Minister announces US$15 million for ASEAN-Australia health security and recovery initiatives

Australia’s Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, announced a commitment to assist the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the areas of health security, stability, and recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. As part of the A$23 million (US$15 million) package, Australia will fund a new health security initiative with the ASEAN to improve the prevention, detection, and mitigation of communicable diseases.

The minister also announced a new political-security partnership to improve stability and assist migrant worker communities, as well as a digital trade standards initiative to accelerate the digital transformation of the region as part of its economic recovery.

Press release - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Australia announces new funding for TB, antimicrobial resistance research

Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne, and Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, announced that Australia will provide A$8 million (US$5 million) in funding for new research on tuberculosis (TB) and microbial resistance.

Half of the funding will be provided to the University of Sydney to target antibiotic-resistant TB in the Pacific Islands. This funding will support technical training in six Pacific countries, focusing particularly on Kiribati, which has a high incidence of TB. Other grants will assist in the rapid detection of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR TB) and community-based solutions to reduce the transmission of MDR TB.

The funding is being provided through Australia's Medical Research Futures Fund.

Press release - Minister for Foreign Affairs

Experts call on Australia to establish national center for disease control

Experts are calling on Australia to establish a centralized disease control agency, equivalent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States. Australia is currently the only Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country without such an agency.

On June 24, 2020, the Leader of the Opposition in Australia's federal Parliament, Anthony Albanese, proposed the establishment of a disease control body in Australia, which could coordinate medical research, maintain the national medical stockpile, and provide quick advice in emergencies.

Blog - The Conversation

Press release -  Opposition Leader

Survey finds Australians are committed to democratic values, skeptical of China

Results from the Lowy Institute's 2020 survey indicate that Australians remain committed to democratic values and a belief that these values — rather than economic interests — should guide Australia's international engagement.

Respondents to the poll expressed increasing concern about China; however, despite these concerns, the poll suggests that Australians do support jointly-funded development cooperation projects by Australia and China in the Pacific and Asia regions.

News article - The Diplomat

Report - Lowy Institute

Australia provides US$7 million for COVID-19 assistance in Indonesia and Laos

Australia will provide support for Indonesia’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts through the World Health Organisation (WHO). This will strengthen Indonesia’s laboratories and the use of health information, as well as providing better protection for health workers and patients.

In Laos, Australia has increased its bilateral assistance program by almost 25% to help the government strengthen health systems, protect vulnerable citizens, and plan for economic recovery.

News article - The Jakarta Post

News article - The Star Online

Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs critical of WHO but reconfirms commitment to multilateral organizations

In a recent speech addressing Australia's global engagement in a time of COVID-19, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne, spoke at length about Australia's commitment to multilateral institutions. Payne said that Australia plans to continue to work with multilateral institutions, which have played a key role in the global response to COVID-19.

Payne highlighted the World Health Organization (WHO) in particular, which she said Australia would like to see become stronger, more independent, and more transparent. She outlined the government's intention to focus its contributions on global institutions that are fit-for-purpose and have a strong focus on the Indo-Pacific region.

Australia plans concentrate its efforts on preserving three aspects of the multilateral system:

  1. Rules that enable international trade and investment and protect sovereignty;
  2. Norms that support the rule of law, universal human rights, and gender equality; and
  3. Standards that regulate international health, transport, telecommunications, and other issues that underpin the global economy and are key to a post-COVID-19 recovery.

The Minister’s speech was given following a review of multilateral organizations announced by the Australian Prime Minister in November 2019.

Speech - Minister for Foreign Affairs

Australia's increased funding to heath multilaterals likely comes at expense of other programs

Given Australia's plans to dramatically increase its contributions to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) and other multilateral health organizations including the Global Fund, in coming years, while maintaining its A$4.0 billion (US$2.6 billion) cap on development spending, experts are warning that other development programs will need to be cut. They are therefore calling on the government to increase funding for international development, especially given the intensity of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis.

At the June 4 Global Vaccine Summit 2020, Australia pledged A$300 million (US$195 million) to Gavi for 2021-2025. This is the largest contribution made by Australia since the Liberal-National Coalition (center-right) government was elected in 2013 and marks a return to funding levels seen under the previous Labor Party (center-left) government. However, while the country's funding for Gavi has returned to pre-2013 levels, Australia's overall development budget remains far lower than under the previous government (A$4.8 billion or US$3.1 billion at the time of the comparable Gavi pledge).

Global health has become an increasingly important component of Australia's development program — and is a key pillar of its new development policy — particularly in the context of COVID-19.

Blog post - Devpolicy Blog

Former Australian ministers seek greater agricultural research for pandemic prevention

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the need for greater preparedness for pandemics and outbreaks of other diseases affecting the world. Former Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, and former Trade Minister, Craig Emerson, are calling on the Australian government to integrate research and development in agriculture, health, and the environment in order to reduce the risk of future pandemics. An integrated approach is particularly necessary for dealing with food chains involving close contact between humans and animals.

The Australian government recently released a new development strategy titled 'Partnerships for Recovery', which outlines a shift in the country's development programming to focus on stability and economic recovery from COVID-19 in the Indo-Pacific region.

News article - Australian Financial Review

At Gavi's Global Vaccine Summit, world leaders exceed funding target with historic US$8.8 billion

Representatives of 52 countries, including 35 heads of state, joined the June 5, 2020, Global Vaccine Summit, convened by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to raise a total of US$8.8 billion in financing for childhood immunizations and vaccine infrastructure. World leaders, meeting with representatives of 12 organizations and corporations for the London-based pledging moment, hoped to reach a US$7.4 billion funding target. By the time the pledging ended, the target had been overshot by US$1.4 billion.

Against the backdrop of a still-raging COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands and laid waste to the global economy, attendees of the summit spoke passionately about the need for global cooperation and solidarity in ensuring that a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, once developed, be accessible to all.

The US$8.8 billion will support Gavi's campaign to vaccinate 300 million children in the world's poorest countries against diseases including diphtheria, polio, and measles by 2025. Disruptions to Gavi's regular immunization activities, caused by COVID-19, have endangered an estimated 80 million children under one year old. The funding will also bolster Gavi's efforts in strengthening health systems in low-income states which have been ravaged by the pandemic and will help build out infrastructure to support the eventual provision of a vaccine against the virus.

A further US$567 million was also raised for 'Gavi Advance Market Commitment for COVID-19 Vaccines' (Gavi Covax AMC), a new financing instrument designed to provide access to the eventual COVID-19 vaccine specifically in low- and middle-income countries.

“To beat the COVID-19 pandemic, the world needs more than breakthrough science. It needs breakthrough generosity,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “...When COVID-19 vaccines are ready, this funding and global coordination will ensure that people all over the world will be able to access them.”

Press release - Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

Experts praise strong COVID-19 focus of Australia’s new development policy, but stagnant budget and lack of regional focus raises eyebrows

Some experts have welcomed the announcement of a COVID-19 centered Australian development policy given that it emphasizes working to support partner governments in the delivery of critical services and is accompanied by a new performance framework. However, they have also identified some problems with the government's new approach, in particular, the policy's minimal references to South Asia and the role of non-health sectors. It is also of concern that despite the magnitude of the COVID-19 crisis, the Australian government has no plan to increase its official development assistance (ODA) budget.

At the end of May of 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, Australia published a new development policy that will guide its development cooperation efforts for the next two years. It focuses specifically on stability, health security, and economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19.

Blog post - ANU Devpolicy Blog

Australia pledges US$196 million at Gavi’s Global Vaccine Summit: 20% increase from its 2015 pledge

At the Global Vaccine Summit, convened by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance in London on June 4, 2020, Australia pledged A$300 million (US$195 million) for the period of 2021-2025. This represents a 20% increase from Australia’s most recent pledge to Gavi in 2015. Australia was represented at the virtual event by Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.

In the Pacific and Timor-Leste, Gavi had already enabled the vaccination of more than 1.5 million children.

Press release - Foreign Ministry

Australia commits US$23 million to COVID-19 vaccine and treatment development

Australia’s Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, announced a commitment of A$36 million (US$23 million) for domestic research into treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. This includes a further A$14 million (US$9 million) for vaccine development projects and A$7 million (US$4 million) to support the development of anti-viral therapies.

Funding will be provided through Australia’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). The MRFF has already provided A$30 million ($20 million) for domestic COVID-19 research in 2020.

Press release - Department of Health

Australia’s leading NGO body calls for additional US$1.3 billion in ODA over four years after survey suggests high public support for international COVID-19 assistance

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) is calling on the government to allocate an additional A$2.0 billion (US$1.3 billion) over four years to Australia’s development assistance program to cover the costs of growing challenges, arising as a result of COVID-19 crisis. 

ACFID’s call cites an earlier statement by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) regarding the scale of the COVID-19 crisis, which DFAT claims will “dwarf” Australia’s ODA program resources. It further references a survey conducted by ACFID, which indicates that 72% of the Australian public support the provision of increased financial assistance and expertise to the poorest nations, to assist their responses to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Press release - ACFID 

Australia redirects US$176 million of ODA to fund regional COVID-19 response

Australia’s Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Marise Payne, has announced her government’s plan to redirect funds from its annual ODA program to provide medical, humanitarian, and economic support to Timor Leste, Indonesia, and the Pacific. These funds will primarily be drawn from programs halted or slowed because of COVID-19, for example, ODA usually used for scholarships and volunteer programs. 

At least A$280 million (US$176 million) over two years will be redirected to support countries in Australia’s immediate region in their efforts to combat the COVID-19 crisis. This will include A$6 million (US$3 million) in funding for the World Food Program, primarily for air transport and logistics services delivering humanitarian and critical medical supplies as well is assessments on food security for Pacific countries. 

Press release – Minister for Foreign Affairs 

Press release – Minister for Foreign Affairs 

Australia publishes new development policy focused on COVID-19, abandons policy review

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has released Australia’s latest development policy outlining its two-year approach to international development. The policy is titled ‘Partnerships for Recovery’ and outlines a development cooperation program focused on stability, health security, and economic recovery in partner countries. The policy also reveals that Australia will continue to emphasize loans for infrastructure development in the Pacific over the next two years.   

The policy highlights the importance of equitable access to vaccines when a COVID-19 vaccine is developed. Australia commits to working with international and Australian partners — including Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance — to ensure that any newly developed vaccines are widely available. 

So far, commitments made in light of COVID-19 only drawing around 4% of Australia’s annual development cooperation budget, however, DFAT has indicated that the challenges associated with the COVID-19 crisis will dwarf Australia’s ODA budget. As a result, the government has abandoned its wider review of Australian development policy, which was due to be released in July 2020. 

Policy - DFAT 

News article - Devex 

Australia provides US$61 million for cyclone repairs and COVID-19 support for Pacific Island countries

Australia has reallocated A$100 million (US$61 million) from its existing development program budget to assist Pacific nations struggling with the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis and working to repair damage from the recent cyclone Harold. Papua New Guinea will receive the greatest share of this assistance. 

In addition to this reallocation of development funding in favor of budget support for the hardest-hit countries, the government has announced that it will consider economic growth, health outcomes, and employment in assessing projects for its new A$2.0 billion (US$1.3 billion) Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific. 

News article - ABC 

Australian Chair of CEPI warns against the risk of “vaccine nationalism”

Jane Halton, the Chair of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) — and  previous head of the Australian Department of Health — has issued a warning about the dangers of nationalistic approaches COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution. During an address to the Australian National Press Club, she argued that “vaccine nationalism” could threaten the effectiveness of international processes to discover an equitably available vaccine. This could be of particular consequence for poorer countries that lack the resources to develop their own vaccines.   

Around the world there are now more than 100 vaccines in various stages of research and development and almost one-quarter of them have made it to the human trial stage. Australian researchers from the University of Queensland, the Peter Doherty Institute, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) are working together on what is currently one of the leading vaccine candidates. Early-stage trials of another vaccine candidate produced by US company Novavax commenced in Australia on May 25, 2020. 

Blog post – The Lowy Institute 

News article – The Guardian 

News article – ABC