Fact sheet

Fact Check: Does Australians' spending on pets show how little the nation spends on foreign aid?

Australian Labor Party Foreign aid Consumer behaviour
Labor senator Sam Dastyari claimed Australian consumers spent three times more on their pets than the nation spentds on foreign aid. Does the amount that Australian consumers spend on their pets show how little Australia spends on foreign aid? RMIT ABC Fact Check found Senator Dastyari's comparison suffers from faulty reasoning. It might make for a good headline, but comparing Australia's aid contribution to that of comparable OECD countries provides a fairer yardstick. In 2015-16, the Australian Government spent $4.03 billion on foreign aid. Meanwhile, research by industry group Animal Medicines Australia suggests that Australians spent $12.2 billion on their pets in the 12 months to April 2016 ' three times Canberra's foreign aid contribution. Figures drawn from other research organisations appear to support the notion of greater compassion for Australia's pets than for the people of needy nations. But Senator Dastyari's comparison, in itself, does not demonstrate that Australia's foreign aid spend is ungenerous. For a start, the foreign aid budgets of governments worldwide are typically small when compared to aggregate private spending. Data indicates that Australia's foreign aid spending is low when compared to that of other countries. Australia's ratio for 2015-16 was 0.25 per cent, which puts it 17th among the 29 countries on the OECD's Development Assistance Committee and well below the UN target of 0.7 per cent and DAC average of 0.32 per cent. This comparison is arguably more apposite for showing that Australia's foreign aid budget is "small", rather than a comparison with private spending on pets.
Verdict: Faulty Reasoning
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