Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Broken promises in last night's budget demean the currency of parliamentarians at a time when public confidence in them is needed more than ever, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.

Managing Director Lyle Shelton said it was profoundly disappointing that the biggest single short term budget cut was to overseas aid and that this was a broken promise.

"That there is no public outcry about the $7.6 billion dollars that will be cut from forward estimates of aid over the next five years demonstrates that consumerism and self interest are sadly more important to us than keeping the promises we have repeatedly made to the world's poor," he said.

Mr Shelton said it was now clear Australia's commitment to the Millennium Development Goals to increase aid as part of a global agreement to halve extreme poverty by 2015 was now all but over.

"A Medicare co-payment has been introduced to build a medical endowment fund to cure first world ills while we break our promise and cut aid to those for whom a doctor's visit would be a luxury,” he said.

"While balancing the books is important, the government painted itself into an untenable position by saying it could reduce expenditure without raising taxes and without cutting key areas.

"It would have been better if these promises had not been made in the first place," he said.

Mr Shelton said decoupling Australia's giving to the global poor from Gross National Income was a broken promise given in writing to the Christian constituency before the election.

"It appears Australia no longer has foreign aid, we have foreign policy. It seems our aid money is directed to countries where we have a political interest," Mr Shelton said.

"It is reasonable that the burden of reducing expenditure has to be shared, but it seems that a disproportionate burden has fallen upon the poor and disadvantaged," Mr Shelton said.

"This sadly says something about our priorities and self interest as a wealthy nation."

Mr Shelton welcomed news that the National School Chaplaincy Program would continue to be funded.

Mr Shelton also gave credit to the government for including funding of $115 million, announced in March, for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.

He also said it was pleasing to see funding for the Australian Charities and Not For Profit Commission retained and hoped this was an indication that it may not be abolished as planned.