The federal government's new development policy lays the foundations for a stronger development program, which will be critical to achieving Australia’s goal of a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific, according to the Development Intelligence Lab.
The new policy, announced today by Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Minister for International Development Pat Conroy, is the first policy of its kind in almost ten years.
The Lab notes it addresses the most critical shortcomings of Australian aid identified through the government’s extensive consultation process and seeks to reorient Australia's priorities towards the most pressing regional challenges.
Key new elements of the policy identified in analysis by the Lab include:
- A clear statement that poverty alleviation and sustainable development of the region is central to Australia’s national interest
- The establishment of Australian Development Investments and a more focused approach to development finance
- A new performance and delivery framework, with commitments on climate change and gender
- New measures to improve transparency and accountability in Australian development assistance
“This policy makes it clear that development in the Indo-Pacific is crucial if we’re going to meet the security and stability challenges the region faces,” Ms Rice, the Lab’s CEO, said.
“Australia is well-positioned to support stronger, more resilient states that can navigate the challenges of the next decade.
"For the past decade, Australia's approach to development and aid in the region has been characterised by reactive plays aimed at short-term tactical outcomes, like outbidding China or burnishing Australia’s image at a cost to development results.
"This new policy, by contrast, is a clear statement of intent. This policy sets out a good faith, transparent and long-term approach to development that can help create a peaceful, stable and prosperous region – which serves Australia’s national interests far better than using the aid budget as a slush fund.”
Ms Rice noted, however, that the shift in policy must be supported by concrete action to have any meaning.
"The foundations of this new policy are certainly encouraging, but policies mean nothing unless they are supported by genuine political will, departmental leadership, and adequate resources,” Ms Rice said.
“The Foreign Minister says that achieving the goals of this policy ‘will require meaningful changes to how we think, plan and engage’ – so this new policy must be a springboard for serious development reform. We’ll be watching closely,” Ms Rice said.
Anil Lambert 0416 426 722 / Matt Coughlan 0400 561 480