Australia’s international aid and development agencies, along with influential business leaders, today invited the Federal Government to renew its commitment to the world’s poorest people, amid speculation that Australia’s aid program is again facing cuts.

Aid agencies Oxfam, World Vision, Plan, Caritas, Save the Children, Fred Hollows Foundation and Care, as well as influential business leaders Medibank Private managing director and World Vision Australia Chairman George Savvides, former President of BP Australasia and Plan Chairman Gerry Hueston and Australian of the Year 2011 Simon McKeon, have united to send a clear message to the Government - no more broken promises.

Speaking in the lead-up to the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, World Vision Australia chief executive Tim Costello said as the fourth wealthiest country in the OECD per capita Australia must reflect on its commitment to the many millions pf people living in need. “What is an Australian promise worth?” Mr Costello said. “You don’t mess with a promise made to the world’s most vulnerable people.”

Dr Helen Szoke, Chief Executive, Oxfam Australia said: “The Australian Aid budget is not an ATM for the Treasurer and the Finance Minister to raid. Targeted and effective aid not only saves, and drastically improves people’s lives, it also helps to create the necessary pre-conditions for sustainable and shared economic growth. The Australian aid program is one that Australians can be proud of and one that invests in the security and prosperity of our region.”

Ian Wishart, CEO of Plan International Australia said: “Further cuts to aid reveal a Grinch-like attitude to the poor that is quite out of step with mainstream Australian values.”

CARE Australia CEO Julia Newton-Howes said: “Australian aid is an investment, helping to create a stable and prosperous future. We strongly urge Cabinet to leave Australia’s already severely reduced aid budget alone.”

Save the Children Director of Public Affairs Mat Tinkler said: "Having twice raided billions in aid funding to prop up their budget bottom line, it’s outrageous that this Government could now consider slicing even more. Further aid cuts will deny countless life-saving services at a time when deadly conflict, disease and disaster are causing unprecedented strife worldwide.”

The Fred Hollows Foundation CEO Brian Doolan said a second round of serious aid cuts this year would hurt people living in poverty with preventable blindness. “The Australian public supports our work restoring sight to millions each year and Federal Government funding allows us to do even more. Any further cuts will mean thousands of people will be trapped in blindness for the rest of their lives. The budget cuts earlier this year have already forced us to axe programs within Africa, and in Vietnam, Indonesia and China.”

Sister Margaret Fyfe from Caritas Australia said: “Every year almost two million Australian households donate to the work of Australian aid and development agencies. While Australians reach out to the men, women and children most vulnerable to poverty and natural disasters they expect their government to do the same. “