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Greens launch bill to increase overseas aid

The Australian Greens today launched a bill setting out a clear timeline to ensure Australia stops chipping away at the aid budget and meets the global target to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income on foreign aid by 2020.

Costings from the Parliamentary Budget Office show that meeting this goal would cost $2.6 billion over the next four years - money that could be raised if Labor included gold in the mining tax.

The Greens bill excludes spending on onshore processing of asylum-seekers, climate mitigation and military objectives from this aid target and establishes a Commissioner on Aid Effectiveness to act as an independent watchdog to ensure aid is spent effectively.

"It's time the Gillard Government got its priorities right and increased spending on foreign aid," Australian Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne said.

"In Labor's race to a budget surplus last year bad judgement calls were made that now need to be rectified.

"We've seen too many cuts while the big mining companies continue to be treated with kid gloves.

"We need a clear timeline and reporting mechanism to protect the aid budget from further cuts so it isn't seen as easy fodder for domestic spending priorities.

"Now is the time for Labor to make its mark and lock in a timeline to provide more and better aid in line with UN goals."

Greens overseas aid spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said: "In the last six months, the Government has diverted $375 million from the aid budget to pay for onshore detention and defence have been caught out misallocating $190 million defence spending as aid.

"The aid budget is not a pie that can be sliced up to feed defence or immigration needs.

"Australia should proudly display its credentials as a generous donor willing to pull its weight when it comes to poverty alleviation. It is a disgrace that our aid contributions are well behind countries like Britain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands.

"Over 8000 people are spending only $2 a day on food this week as part of the Live Below The Line challenge. The old parties are dragging the chain on this issue", said Senator Rhiannon.


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