The Fred Hollows Foundation is disappointed the Australian Government‘s budget does not honour the bi-partisan commitment to increase overseas aid to 0.5 percent of Gross National Income by 2015.

This means many hundreds of thousands of the world’s poorest, often children, will suffer.

However, The Foundation recognises the budget does contain a real increase in aid - that increase is important.

The commitment to 0.5 percent was part of Australia’s pledge to help halve global poverty by 2015 – made by the Australian Government in 2000 and confirmed by the current Prime Minister. This was a noble commitment by Australia.

Australians are generous people – however this decision represents a cut of $2.9 billion in overseas aid expenditure in the next four years.

Overseas aid plays a vital roll in helping lift the poorest people in our region out of grinding poverty.

For instance, over the past 20 years child deaths in the developing world have been reduced from 12 million to 8 million a year. Overseas aid has played an important part in this historic achievement.

In eye health, tens of thousands can see again because of the Australian Government’s support.

And every day, children are being fed, lifesaving medical care is provided, and vital infrastructure is being built because of Australia’s support.

As well as saving lives aid also improves economic growth and enhances security. That doesn’t just help the poor, it helps Australia.

It is important that the Coalition does not also abandon its pledge to the poor in our region.