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Consistent with other priorities for Australian Government expenditure

"The Government will continue to support the UN goal of 0.7 per cent ODA/GNI as an aspiration and endeavour to maintain aid at the highest level, consistent with the needs of partner countries, our own capacity to assist and other priorities for Australian Government expenditure. In September 2005, the Prime Minister announced Australia’s intention to increase its overseas aid allocation to about A$4 billion a year by 2010. Such an increase will represent a doubling of Australia’s overseas aid from 2004 levels."

- Alexander Downer, answering a question in writing, House of Reps Hansard, 9.2.06

Note that last part of the first sentence again: Other priorities for Australian Government expenditure.

Australian NGO AID/WATCH released a report on Thursday entitled "Attitudes to Aid" which surveyed community and government attitudes to Australian foreign aid programs. From the executive summary:

"A key finding in this report is that a majority of federal politicians support pursuing Australia’s national interests and Australia’s commercial interests through the overseas aid program. In contrast, community members strongly disagree with programs and policies which actively support Australian commercial interests, Australian strategic interests, privilege Australian private companies and pursue ‘security’ rather then poverty alleviation."

AID/WATCH also made the following observation:

"AID/WATCH was also very concerned in 2006 at striking examples of Australia pursuing its own national interests in the aid program, obscuring its stated goals of poverty alleviation and sustainable development. This was highlighted most acutely when the Prime Minister John Howard revealed in Parliamentary question time that AusAID funds were allocated to AWB executives Trevor Flugge and Co. to pursue Australian wheat interests, at the time of the Australian invasion of Iraq."

However the money is being used, Australia currently spends 0.3 per cent of GNP on foreign aid, and is aiming to raise that to 0.36 per cent by 2010. Barely half the MDG target, and one of the worst OECD nations.

But then if Senator Santo Santoro's idea of giving to charity was donating to an advocacy group run by his financial adviser, then maybe he was just engaging in the prevailing culture of the federal government to which he belongs.

Helping to eliminate world poverty? Only when it is consistent with other government priorities. Hey, we don't even do anything about poverty in our own country!

An article from Inter Press Service lets the world know how mean our government really is.