Foreign Aid and International Security
By Reginald Ramos from Perth USAsia Centre | 20 Feb 2018
On 20 February 2018, the Perth USAsia Centre partnered with the McCusker Centre for Citizenship and the City of Perth Library to host "Turbulence and Volatility: Australia's Foreign Aid and Security". This event featured:
- Dr Helen Szoke, CEO, Oxfam Australia
- Senator Linda Reynolds CSC, Senator for Western Australia
- Madeleine King MP, Federal Member for Brand
- Dr Anne Aly, Federal Member for Cowan
- There is a disconnect between linking Australian foreign aid and international security. In public opinion surveys, Australians have been surveyed to believe that Australia sends up to 16% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to overseas countries in the form of foreign aid. Currently Australian foreign aid is 0.2% of GDP and there remains a missing narrative between foreign aid contribution and a more stable and prosperous international security environment.
- The politics of foreign aid remains contentious. From a political perspective, there are no votes in lobbying to increase foreign aid expenditure. Political parties have tended to draw upon the politics of victimisation and domestic economic downturn, which affects Australian voters perception of foreign aid contribution.
- Australian foreign aid is among one of its most important diplomatic tools. As Australia's foreign aid decreases, so does its diplomatic power around the world. The diplomatic tool of foreign aid is a part of Australia's toolkit in influencing and shaping the world, particularly the Indo-Pacific region. In addition to this, Australia must harness a diplomatic framework not only surrounding "hard" and "soft" power, but also "smart" power.
- There are mega-trends that is increasingly destabilising the international security landscape. This includes trends such as climate change, gender inequality and the preservation of a vibrant civil society. Australia needs to build on-the-ground relations, learn from them, while also play a part in influencing the country and its systems to create systemic change. The increasing turbulence and volatility of the international security sphere will continue to develop in the coming years and this will make the challenge of effective foreign aid more complex.
Reginald Ramos is a Research and Program Assistant at the Perth USAsia Centre.
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