THE Abbott Government has reined in its Official Development Assistance (ODA) foray into territories further afield and returned the bulk of its aid focus to its more traditional area of strategic interest – the Asia-Pacific region.
On face value, the Australian Government’s estimated $4billion ODA allocations for 2015-16 appears to be aimed at continuing Australia’s commitment to development in the Pacific and building economic partnerships across Asia. Combined, the Asia-Pacific region will receive 93 per cent of Australia’s entire ODA.
While Australia’s key Asian partners have had varying degrees of cuts to their ODA funding allocations, the reductions are far less than those applied to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, including the Palestinian Territories.
Countries in that region bear the brunt of Australia’s funding cuts. They have been allocated $31.8 million in 2015-16 – a massive drop from $106 million in 2014-15.
Apart from Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste, individual Pacific countries have had their share of Australian development assistance maintained at the 2014-15 levels. However, funding for Pacific regional programs – from which most Pacific countries also benefit – saw a 10 percent reduction.
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by Dennis Rounds