Australia goes to the polls to vote for the nation’s future federal government on Saturday.
The opposition Labor government promised last week to increase foreign aid by $1.6 billion AUD over the next four years. That’s a breakdown of an additional $30 million over the next financial year, followed by $220 million in 2020-21 and up to $520 million in 2022-23.
In March, Labor’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong announced their foreign aid strategy and budget would center on gender equality, human rights, climate change, and health. Most notably, Labor’s aid program would see an extra $380 million pledged over four years for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. A further $32 million will go toward non-government organizations and $10 million will go toward assisting the plight of the Rohingya people.
The Coalition government have yet to release a detailed statement or costings breakdown on their foreign aid policy. Instead, last month, the Australian federal budget revealed foreign aid under Morrison would be cut from $4.16 billion currently to $4.04 billion in the next financial year. By 2023, aid is expected to be nearly 12% lower in real terms.
The Coalition’s foreign aid policy will remain centered on the Pacific, with the majority of funding going toward infrastructure projects in the region — including $2 billion for an infrastructure financing facility
Labor has released a Climate Change Action Plan that promises to reduce carbon emissions by 45% on 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net zero pollution by 2050. Labor will further ensure 50% of Australia's energy usage stems from renewable sources within the next decade.
The Coalition has vowed to reduce carbon emissions by at least 26% by 2030. After being elected last July, Morrison introduced a $3.5 billion Climate Solution Package. The package will focus on continuing to give farmers and small businesses “the chance to improve the environment and benefit from new revenue opportunities.”
Labor has promised to spend $4 billion over four years to make childcare free for the majority of low-income families. The government will also ensure all three-year-old children have access to 15 hours of free or subsidised preschool education a week. A further $14 billion will also be spent to ensure every public school in the nation is given a funding boost.
The Coalition, similarly, has promised to fund 15 hours of preschool education for four-year-olds. There will be $4.6 billion spent within the Catholic and independent education sector as well as on a new school payment system that will look into the relationship between a school’s funding entitlement and a parent’s individual salary.
Labor’s health policy centers around the cost of living. Within this theme, Labor has promised to cut billions of personal expenses for people seeking dental care or treatment for cancer, while also increasing money for private hospitals. Labor will also place a cap of 2% on private health insurance premium increases for the next two years.
Mental health remains at the forefront of the Coalition government’s health policy. A further $461 million will be committed for a youth mental health and suicide prevention strategy, including increased funding for mental health research and new health facilities.
The Coalition will also subsidize a range of bladder, liver, kidney, and skin cancer drugs and expand access to the meningococcal vaccine. Over $720 million has also been committed over four years to tackle Australia’s ICE epidemic.
Both Labor and the Coalition have promised to lift the Medicare rebate freeze, which previously increased personal expenses for individuals needing to visit a GP or specialist, which, subsequently, saw millions postponing medical treatment.
Labor and the Coalition have both pledged $100 million every year toward drought preparation initiatives. Neither party, however, has established an inclusive national drought policy as suggested by the National Farmers’ Federation.
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud announced the Coalition would also put $70 million specifically toward research and solutions concerning the mass fish kills that have plagued Australia’s Murray Darling Basin over the past year.
The Labor government has promised to place a cap on how much water in the Basin can be bought and sold and have pledged to implement a formal review into criticisms that “public servants acted unlawfully” in the past year around Basin management.