Attitudes to Aid: attitudes of the community and parliamentarians to Australian aid

29 May 2007

Australian politicians are out of step when it comes to community concerns about aid. Aid/Watch's survey of Federal Parliamentarians and community members on their knowledge and opinions on Australian aid, has found a pronounced polarity between politician's preferences for benefiting the national interest and public support for a clear focus of aid on poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

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.

These figures reflect a concern that current aid policy merely represents a narrow vision of aid that suits the broader goals of Australian foreign policy rather than a concerted focus on the levels of poverty in the region.

It suggests that many community stakeholders do not support this current vision and they are not being involved or incorporated in current policy. It also suggests that fundamental changes to the Australian aid program must take place to prevent the effectiveness of aid being hamstrung by 'national interests'.

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