On Oct. 25, Australia’s federal budget — the government's revenue, spending and policy plan — will be unveiled. 

This upcoming budget will be Labor’s first since being elected in May, at the time ending almost a decade of conservative rule. For many, the budget will be the ultimate test to see if Labor will stick to various pre-election promises made on areas like climate change, employment, education, gender equality and international affairs.

Since May, Global Citizen Oceania has called on the newly-elected government to make a slew of new changes, namely concerning overseas aid, new funding for global health challenges like polio, increased climate financing and re-committing to girls' education globally. 

In the past half year, a major commitment was made to fight polio, and $266 million was pledged for HIV, TB and malaria.

Now, in the lead-up to the budget, we have revised our asks of the government to account for former wins and to acknowledge the rapidly changing global political landscape. Read on below to find out exactly what challenges Global Citizen thinks the Australian Government should commit to if we are to live in a more sustainable, peaceful and equitable world.

1. Increase Australian Aid

If Australia is serious about being a leader in international development and poverty eradication, the government must increase its Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget, which is responsible for promoting economic development, fighting poverty and increasing peace in developing nations.

The development program is currently at its lowest level, at just 0.21% of gross national income. 

The United Nations says wealthy nations like Australia should commit 0.7% if the world is to end global poverty.

Labor has long promised to increase Australia’s ODA once elected and has announced that a separate pool of funding would be made available for the Pacific. Dedicated funding for the Pacific region would be increased by 5% in 2022-23, 6% in 2023-24, 8% in 2024-25 and 9% in 2025-26. The money, Labor explained, would support economic growth, health, education, water, sanitation, climate change adaptation and resilience, gender equality and those living with disabilities.

Now is the time to see these assurances officially delivered. 

Australia should also set out a detailed plan to increase its aid spending by at least 0.1% per year to the goal of 0.7%.

2. Help Fight Famine 

A perfect storm of climate change, conflict and the global COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an explosion of food insecurity, with nearly 50 million people in 45 countries now on the brink of famine. This urgent humanitarian crisis requires immediate action, and we must see Australia step up.

Australia can re-establish itself as a values-driven humanitarian actor on the global stage by committing $150 million to an immediate Famine Prevention Package that addresses hunger in the worst-hit hotspots: the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen. 

A coalition of Australian not-for-profits and development organisations are jointly advocating for this new commitment.

The federal budget should also include a long-term targeted Food Security Strategy.

3. Invest In Climate Financing 

Wealthy, heavy-emitting countries like Australia have a responsibility to help vulnerable nations prepare and respond to the effects of climate change. International climate financing — a term used to describe a range of financial measures to assist developing countries prepare for the immediate impacts of global warming — is a critical component of this responsibility.

Global Citizen has long been advocating for Australia to prioritise climate financing in two ways.

The federal budget must firstly show that Labor has committed to its election promise to deliver a $525 million climate resiliency package for the Pacific. Secondly, it must commit to a strategy to increase overall climate funding to at least $3 billion per year by 2025. 

4. Help Every Child Access Education

Every child deserves access to quality education.

A plethora of humanitarian crises over the past few years has devastatingly seen hundreds of millions of children unable to access school, with women and girls disproportionately impacted. 

The United Nations’ global fund for education, Education Cannot Wait, is dedicated to ensuring conflict and crisis do not stand in the way of learning. The upcoming federal budget is the perfect time for Australia to commit to the fund, a move that would allow the organisation to deliver critical programs and supplies during times of emergency in the developing world.

Global Citizen is calling on Australia to donate $16 million for 2023-26.


Demand Equity

Australia Must Tackle Famine, Climate Change & Education Crises in Upcoming Federal Budget

By Madeleine Keck