3 December 2019 I Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi has decried revelations that the Morrison government will cease all bilateral aid to Pakistan while also significantly cutting down Australia’s aid budget to Nepal.
Issuing a press statement earlier today, the Pakistan-born International Aid and Development spokesperson of the Australian Greens party called the move “a shameless pursuit of self interest”.
“The reality is that we could be providing sufficient overseas development assistance to both South Asia and the Pacific if the Coalition hadn’t cut the aid budget consistently since they came to power,” she said.
The NSW Senator mentioned that Australia was already in an embarrassing position globally, with its aid budget well behind the OECD average, “Australia can and should be a global leader in foreign aid.”
Ms Faruqi pointed out that Pakistan was already bearing a huge burden of the climate emergency, with rising sea levels and increasing extreme weather events like floods and storms. “Coal is the biggest contributor to climate breakdown and Australia is the biggest exporter of coal. We have a special obligation to assist countries with climate change mitigation and adaptation,” she asserted.
She said it was unacceptable that the brutal impact of aid budget cuts to vital programs in Pakistan and South Asian countries like Nepal will be borne by the people most in need – women and children.
“The Australian Government must reverse cuts and reinstate aid programs,” she demanded.
According to media reports, bilateral aid to Pakistan was reduced from $39.2 million in 2018-19 to $19 million in 2019-20. But this will fully cease from 2020-21, ending 70 years of Australian assistance to the South Asian nation.