Temporary freeze on foreign aid from 2018

Aid groups are crying foul over further cuts to Australia's aid program in the federal budget.

The Turnbull government is making another raid on Australia's foreign aid program with a temporary freeze that will save it more than $300 million.

Aid will total $4.01 billion in mid-2018 and remain static until indexation resumes in 2021/2022.

The government is coy on what it intends to do with the $303.3 million saving, other than indicating it will be redirected it to "policy priorities".

In the lead-up to Tuesday's federal budget there was speculation aid money would be diverted to national security and counter-terrorism efforts, including increased funding for the overseas spy agency Australian Secret Intelligence Service.

The ASIS funding wasn't detailed in the budget papers.

But after $11.3 billion worth of cuts since the coalition government came to power in 2013, the latest move has not pleased aid organisations.

There's little consolation in the aid budget increasing slightly in 2017/18 to $3.9 billion, from $3.8 billion this year.

Aid spending now equates to about just 22 cents in every $100 of gross national income, a new historic low.

Campaign for Australian Aid spokesman Tony Milne said the funding decision was designed to "appease One Nation" and was not about "our common humanity".

"Yet again, our aid program has been viewed as disposable," ChildFund chief executive Nigel Spence added.

CARE Australia chief executive Sally Moyle said the cuts were a "terrible statement about who we are as Australians".

Papua New Guinea and Fiji will see slight decreases in development assistance to reflect changing circumstances.

PNG, Australia's largest aid recipient despite will lose $4.4 million, but still get a total of $472.9 million in 2017/18.

Fiji will receive almost $11 million less, taking into account money allocated previously for Tropical Cyclone Winston recovery, bringing its aid to $40.4 million in the new financial year.

Aid programs for other countries are mostly stable.

To reflect the unprecedented number of humanitarian crises worldwide, an emergency fund will increase to $150 million, from $20 million.

Likewise, there will be a boost to the humanitarian assistance kitty of $60 million.

Elsewhere, diplomats posted overseas with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other government agencies will have their generous allowances trimmed to save $37 million over four years.

The government says this will better match "community expectations".

Plans to host ten leaders from the Association of South East Asian Nations in Sydney in 2018 for a special summit comes with a $37.7 million price tag for organisation and logistics.

The Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands - a military and police operation to restore law and order - is set to end on June 30 this year.

However, $79 million over four years will be allocated to a police development program for the Pacific island nation.

Source AAP

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