Aid cuts hurt poor and boat people: Greens

Christine Milne says she intends to lead the Greens well beyond the September election.

The Greens say Labor has stripped the world's poor of assistance to pay for its "cruel" refugee agreement with Papua New Guinea.

Labor's decision to slash foreign aid to pay for its refugee deal with Papua New Guinea inflicts cruelty on asylum seekers at the expense of the world's poor, the Australian Greens say.

The cost of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's "hardline" boats plan was outlined on Friday in the government's economic update, with a price tag of $1.1 billion over four years, and $175 million in 2013-14.

Labor's mini-budget also outlines cuts of $879 million over four years to the aid budget, with $236 million going to pay for the refugee plan.

Another $420 million will be paid in additional aid to PNG, in return for its support of the tough asylum seeker policy.

All asylum seekers who arrive by boat will be transferred to PNG under the plan, with no chance of resettlement in Australia.

Greens leader Christine Milne described the resettlement plan as "one billion dollars worth of cruelty inflicted on asylum seekers ... to be paid for by some of the world's poorest people".

"On the back of the world's poorest we're inflicting cruelty on even more people," Senator Milne told reporters in Hobart.

"If the Australian government is going to bribe PNG, and that's exactly what they have done, then they should have found that money outside the aid budget."

Despite almost one billion being cut from the aid budget, Treasurer Chris Bowen says Labor will still meet its 2017/18 target of boosting overseas development assistance to 0.5 per cent of gross national income (GNI).

"But we will get there in a different profile," he said.

The government originally promised to reach the 0.5 per cent target by 2015/16 but pushed it back to 2016/17 in last year's budget, before announcing a further delay in May, sparking an outcry from charity organisations.

Oxfam said the $879 million cut to the aid budget was a "cruel blow for the world's poor".

"The purpose of Australia's overseas aid budget is to fight poverty," said a spokeswoman for the aid group, Kelly Dent.

"It is not an ATM for the government to meet its domestic financial commitments."

Source AAP

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