This Budget is the most significant ever for Australia's overseas aid program. Australia will provide $3.155 billion in official development assistance (ODA) in 2007-08. This Budget increases ODA managed by AusAID to $2.732 billion in 2007-08, a projected 21.7 per cent increase in real terms over the 2006-07 Budget figure. It announces a $2.588 billion package of new initiatives, with $2.541 billion through AusAID designed to take forward the implementation of the White Paper, Australian Aid: Promoting Growth and Stability, which I launched in April 2006. This Budget demonstrates significant progress toward the Government's goal to double Australian aid to about $4 billion a year by 2010. The Government expects to continue increasing development assistance, to $3.5 billion in 2008-09, $3.8 billion in 2009-10 and $4.3 billion in 2010-11.
This expansion in Australian ODA reinforces our efforts to improve the lives, security and wellbeing of our neighbours. The package of new initiatives aims to contribute to a number of positive outcomes particularly in the Asia-Pacific region:
- aiming to increase by 10 million the number of boys and girls in school by 2010 and to assist improving the quality of education for another 50 million children
- aiming for a reduction by three quarters in the maternal mortality ratio, and two thirds in the mortality rate among children under five; a reversal in the incidence of malaria and other major diseases
- addressing crucial gaps in infrastructure maintenance and investment to spur economic growth
- addressing climate change by tackling deforestation, improving freshwater catchment management, and promoting better management of energy
- funding for improved emergency response and preparedness, and
- long-term efforts started to improve the quality of leadership in the region and increase incentives for improved governance.
The ratio of Australia's ODA to gross national income (GNI) for calendar year 2006 is estimated at 0.30 per cent, equal to the preliminary weighted average for the OECD donor community. This Budget maintains Australia's ODA/GNI ratio at 0.30 per cent.
I am pleased to present this overview of the Government's key priorities for Australia's aid program in 2007-08. The new initiatives detailed here mark decisive progress towards the Government's goal to double aid by 2010 and implement the strategic directions of the White Paper.