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Aid and development

Lorrie Graham for AusAID
Fresh water in Kiribati
Lorrie Graham for AusAID

Australia is one of a handful of countries sticking by its commitment to increase its foreign aid budget in the wake of the extended global financial challenges. Although the Australian Government is delaying to 2016-2017 its commitment to get Australia's aid budget to 0.5% of Australia's gross national income, the aid budget is still on an upward trend with a 4% increase planned for next financial year. Australia's aid program continues to increase at a time when other economies in the region, notably China and India, are taking on donor roles in countries where Australia has been traditionally one of the major donors. Other countries in Asia, including Indonesia, Thailand and South Korea are also emerging as small aid donors. The role of Australia's aid program in the world and how it fits into Australia's international policy suffers from weak domestic public discussion and debate. There is a lack of understanding on how the Australian aid program contributes to and supports Australia's national interest. Why should Australia maintain its aid commitment? What is international development? How does a changing international environment impact on Australia’s aid policy and its relations in the regions? How does a foreign aid program fit in with Australia's wider international policy and national interest? Lowy Institute research, events and commentary examines these sorts of questions whilst debating & discussing the strategic influence of Australia’s aid program.