Australian aid agencies and NGOs were outraged at the federal government’s decision to delay planned increases in foreign aid spending earlier this month.
But Bill Gates, arguably the most influential figure in the global aid industry, says Australians should be proud of the country’s increasing spending profile and its leadership role in directing aid to countries that need it most.
The Australian government had planned to increase foreign aid spending to 0.5% of GDP but the target date for reaching the target has been pushed back in the last two federal budgets because of tax revenue write-downs. The government now plans to hit the target in 2017-2018.
The Microsoft founder and world’s richest man has written a column for News Ltd pointing out that Australia stood in contrast to other contrast by increasing its spend on foreign aid following the GFC.
He also says aid spending that helps lift economies in developing countries critical to Australia’s economic future:
Eighteen of Australia’s 20 closest neighbours are developing countries. It’s plain to see that your own long-term prosperity and security depend on the progress of development in your region.
Many of your major trading partners, including China, Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand, were once major aid recipients. Today’s aid recipients can follow the same trajectory, leading to a brighter future for everyone.
Because Australia is increasingly seen as a leader in development, your investments serve as an example and an inspiration to other donors.
Gates will be interviewed in a special edition of ABC TV’s Q&A tonight.
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