Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Why we no longer care about Foreign Aid

Back as far as 1970, OECD countries agreed that official development assistance (ODA), should be set at a minimum of 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI). In Australia, we call it foreign aid, and it's about supporting countries that lack strong economies to provide for the marginalised of their communities.

One of the statements leaders of the G7 signed upon at the Monterrey summit in 2002 was, 'We urge developed countries that have not done so to make concrete efforts toward the target of 0.7 percent of gross national income (GNI) as ODA to developing countries.' (See Jeffrey Sachs', The End of Poverty, p. xxxiii).

But, we no longer care about foreign aid. Have a look Australia. Look at these damning statistics. Under Whitlam's government back in the 1970s we see the best effort yet of distributing foreign aid money overseas. Our overseas development assistance, has all but declined (as a percentage of GNI) ever since. Under Howard foreign aid was consistently below 0.3%. Under Rudd, Gillard, Rudd we see the ODA percentage rise a little. Now under the current conservative government of Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison we see it being the lowest contribution recorded.
I think I know why.

We are experiencing a kind of Australian nationalism that I haven't seen before. Maybe it's a response to the populism of President Donald Trump or a reaction to radical Islam that has done it. Irrespective of the reasons, we live in a Australia now that is more intent of looking after itself. The Australian Federal Government is continually banging-on about securing our borders and we all become a little more insecure.

The premise is that we need to look after Australians better. I agree, but why does it need to be at the expense of others? I'm not a big fan of nationalism. I believe God created every living being. I believe all are made in the image of God. I believe all have human rights. I believe therefore that an economically strong country like Australia should do more to support our fellow brothers and sisters.

There's more to be said. We could debate the validity of the foreign aid system, and argue about the accountability measures that ensure it goes where it should, but all that aside...

Our rising Australian nationalism reveals that we are self-serving and greedy, with a disdain for cultural integration and respect for others.

I pray we can learn to be generous again.

Read more here about Australian Aid:


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