As the Government frames the May budget, the Australian Christian Lobby has repeated calls for it to meet our foreign aid funding promises to the poor, particularly in light of the genocide against religious minorities in the Middle East and Africa. 

ACL managing director Lyle Shelton said it should be a moral imperative for Australia to honour its Millennium Development Goal commitments in the May budget.

“While having a fiscally responsible budget is important, taxpayers also expect the Government to be generous to the poor, especially in light of the genocide and famines and other tragic events in parts of Africa and the Middle East,” Mr Shelton said.

As signatories to the MDG, Australia promised to peg foreign aid at 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income, but has failed to honour this commitment in recent years under governments of both political persuasions.

“To the disappointment of many Christians, for a number of years the Government has decoupled aid funding from Gross National Income. The ACL calls on Treasurer Scott Morrison to reactivate the Howard-era promise to achieve the MDG target of 0.7 per cent of GNI,” Mr Shelton said.

“Overseas aid is an expression not only of mercy and national generosity but of justice.

“Australia is a prosperous country and has a moral responsibility to be generous to the world’s poorest,” he said.

“In a region where there are enormous vulnerabilities for natural disasters and public health issues, Australia’s contribution to increasing aid is a means of acting justly to ensure the long-term peace, health and wellbeing of the region in which it resides.”

Mr Shelton said the Government needs to restore confidence in how aid money was being allocated, following the $9.5 million gift announced last week by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to global abortion advocate, Planned Parenthood International.

“Our aid money should not be spent on aborting the babies of women in poor countries when far more could be achieved by providing better maternal health care and access to clean birthing facilities,” he said.

The ACL is encouraging Australians to take the opportunity to write a submission to inform Government of aid funding priorities as it undertakes a review of its foreign policy for the next decade.