Over the past week we have shared positive comments and policies by different political party leaders in support of Australian Aid. Today the Shadow Foreign Minister Tanya Plibersek has added her voice by announcing a commitment to reverse the latest cuts $224 million if the ALP is elected.
The Micah coalition welcomes the Labor commitment to reverse the latest cuts of $224 Million, but we recognise this comes on the back of successive and significant cuts in recent years. The aid budget has been the target of disproportionate cuts over successive years. Cuts that have made us the least generous we have ever been.
Today’s announcement of Labor, along with the comments and policy positions of Family First, the Greens and Nick Xenophon from NXT, show that the aid budget does not need to be a political football but can be an area of agreement.
The rights and needs of those who live in abject poverty needs to again be the primary focus of Australian aid. When we as a compassionate, generous and wealthy nation share what we have, and assist communities and countries in their efforts to overcome poverty, we will be doing Gods work of treating our fellow humans as equals.
What today’s announcement means is that there will be a much-needed injection of funds into an already stretched Australian aid budget after the election. A budget which answers the call to those in humanitarian risk due to disaster and to those whose communities will be given security through empowerment. It will provide education, health care and stability to those who at no choice of their own are born into a life of destitution and destruction.
The comments in the past term of Government from now four major and minor political parties show the breadth of support for Australian aid. Committing and investing again in our aid program should not be a hard decision for the Government (or the Treasurer) with such cross-party support.
After the recent budget the Treasurer Scott Morrison said he was grieved to have had to cut aid further (while growing defence spending and corporate tax cats).
Treasurer, there is no need to remain in the stage of grief. You can move through grief to acceptance of the need to restore Australian aid.
On many occasions in the past, Australian political parties have shown they can negotiate towards an end that is agreeable to all. With major infrastructure projects, legislative changes within our democracy, or even social stances, both major political parties have given bipartisan support. The politicians at these time agree to put down the weapons of the political war and on the matter at hand to commit to bipartisan support.
It is for bipartisan support that we pray for in relation to Australian aid. Family First, the Greens, Nick Xenophon and now Labor have shown there is willingness to give support to a measure of the budget which does so much. There is hope. We can choose between light and darkness, between hope and despair, between compassion and selfishness. We can choose life and we pray that the Australian Government takes the righteous path to which God calls all his people.
Benn Banasik is the Political Engagement and Campaign Coordinator of Micah Australia.