Aust cuts aid as NZ delivers major boost

Australian foreign aid is set to fall to an all-time historic low and aid groups warn they'll be forced to scale back projects helping the world's poorest.

A file image of a Rohingya woman receiving a contraceptive injection.

Aid groups hope the coalition will be generous after making $11.3 billion cuts to aid since 2013. (AAP)

The Turnbull government's decision to keep a "foot on the throat" of the foreign aid budget has been branded as narrow-minded and selfish and contrasts with a major boost by New Zealand.

Tuesday's federal budget siphons off $141.1 million over the next four years. Aid will total $4.2 billion this financial year.

The aid budget is expected to hit an all-time low - 19 cents in every $100 of gross national income by 2021-22.

The most recent raid follows more than $11 billion worth of cuts since the coalition government came to power.

Aid groups have contrasted Australia's lack of generosity to the $667 million aid boost the New Zealand government announced on Tuesday aimed at Pacific island countries.

"Many Australians will feel a sense of shame that we are going in the opposite direction," The Fred Hollows Foundation chief executive Ian Wishart said.

Australian is cutting assistance to Cambodia and Indonesia.

Indonesia is outgrowing foreign aid with a growing middle class and its economy on the cusp of going gangbusters.

The Indonesian aid budget will decrease by $30 million to $266 million this financial year.

Cambodia's $6.3 million reduction to $56.1 million in assistance is possibly attributed to its spiral into an authoritarian regime.

Last year the Khmer government banned the opposition party, locked up the opposition leader and forced a newspaper to close.

But Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands are both receiving an aid boost.

Port Moresby will be allocated an extra $46.6 million, taking its assistance to $519.5 million this financial year, while Honiara receives an extra $53.4 million with its aid budget tracking to $146.1 million.

This is because an unspecified amount of cash for an undersea communications cable between Australia and the two Pacific countries will partly come from the aid budget.

East Timor will receive $5 million more support in the form of a police training program, bringing its support to $73 million this financial year.

CARE Australia warned it will be forced to scale back projects.

"This is a selfish decision," chief executive Sally Moyle told reporters in Canberra.

The peak aid agency, the Australian Council for International Development, said a $10 million boost to humanitarian spending was falling short because of the increase of climate change-related disasters.

Chief executive Marc Purcell said despite concerns about China's rising influence in the Pacific region, Australia was failing to show leadership.

There was recent speculation Beijing was angling to set up a military base in Vanuatu.

Plan Australia pointed out there was $25 million for a Captain Cook statue at time when millions were on the cusp of starvation in eastern Africa.

3 min read
Published 8 May 2018 at 10:06pm
Source: AAP