19 Sep 2013

Re-integration of AusAID takes spotlight off poverty - AidWatch

7:16 pm on 19 September 2013

The aid monitoring group AidWatch says the new Australian government's decision to re-integrate AusAID into the Department of Foreign Affairs shows alleviating global poverty is not a priority.

Prime minister Tony Abbott, who has planned a 4 point 5 billion dollar cut to foreign aid, has said the decision will align the aid budget with the Government's diplomatic policies.

The chair of AidWatch's management committee, Matt Hilton, says AusAID currently has a dual objective to reduce poverty and to promote the national interest.

But he says the government's decision means the emphasis will now be on Australia's national and security interest.

"There will be more programmes that focus on Australia's national interest. That has always existed under AusAID but there has always been this tension between povery reduction programmes and national interest programmes. I think the practical results of this decision means that those poverty alleviation programmes will be less important and what will be more important is facilitating Australian business and facilitating other Australian business in the Pacific and in Asia."

AidWatch's Matt Hilton.