AUSTRALIAN aid spending in Africa, the Caribbean, South East Asia and the Pacific has increased by more than $2.9 billion since the government announced its bid for the UN Security Council.
Countries traditionally not supported by Australia, which the government believes are now backing the bid, have been lavished with tens of millions of dollars.
The government claims the campaign announced by Kevin Rudd in 2008 for the seat, which will be voted on at the UN later this month, has cost $23.59 million.
However, aid and development spending in countries believed to be backing Australia has exploded, with taxpayers now funding everything from diplomatic training in the Caribbean to mango production practices in Cambodia and pearl culture in Tanzania.
The increase in spending has come as Australia committed to increase its aid budget to 0.5 per cent of GDP by 2015, up from 0.32 in 2008-09, but government sources said the sudden change in focus outside of Australia’s region to Africa and the Caribbean was designed around the bid.
Spending in Africa, where the government has concentrated much of its effort due to the region’s 50 UN votes, has included a $300,000 membership of a convention on biological diversity in Kenya.
The number of African countries receiving support doubled between 2008-10, a government aid spending report revealed, with total spending in the region leaping from $101 million in 2007-08 to $354 million this financial year.
Australia is now funding services including food, shelter, health and education, safe water and sanitation in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Libya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger Cote d’Ivoire, Chad and the Central African Republic.
A separate project on water safety for Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe is also being funded by taxpayers.
Australia has also given $17.3 million to help African countries improve law and order and justice, $50,000 on a police conference in Uganda and $143,000 on an African Network of Forensic Medicine forum.
In 2011 Australia hosted 60 African heads of state or delegations, while Governor-General Quentin Bryce visited nine African states in 2009.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has appointed five special envoys to Africa.
Five years ago Australia gave no aid to the Caribbean but the region, along with South America, has been lavished with almost $170 million in assistance since the UN bid was announced.
The government believes it has the support of 15 Caribbean countries.
A scholarship program in 2010 cost $150,000, diplomatic training came with a $330,000 bill and $210,000 was spent on a Caribbean Economic Resilience Design.
South America has also benefited with $65 million given to a giant telescope project in Chile’s Atacama Desert.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr denied the aid and development splurge is linked with the bid.
“Australia’s aid program is not a part of the UNSC bid budget,” his spokeswoman said.
She said Australian aid alleviated poverty, helped children and she added “we cannot be serious about alleviating global poverty without considering ways to support Africa.”
The aid to the Caribbean, she said, was showing “Australia’s experience in the Pacific means that we are well placed to assist all small island developing states (SIDS) around the world.”
Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop rejected the government’s claims the aid boost in Africa and the Caribbean was not connected to the bid.
“I don’t think anybody believes that,” she said.
“For example, the large increases in foreign aid to Latin America and the Caribbean are hard to justify on any development grounds given that most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean rank more highly on the human development index than than countries in the Asia/Pacific.”
Spending on UN, Commonwealth and other international organisations is also on the rise and is due to jump from $342 million in 2011-12 to $457 million by 2015-16.
Australia’s development partnerships with the UN will cost $102 million in 2015-16 and rejoining the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development will cost millions.
WHERE THE MONEY IS SPENT
07-08 $101 million
After the bid
08-09 $153 million
09-10 $175.2 million
10-11 $287.1 million
11-12 $291.3 million
12-13 $354.6 million
Latin America and Caribbean
After the bid
09-10 $36.8 million
10-11 $41.9 million
11-12 $43.4 million
12-13 $47.7 million
07-08 $862.9 million
After the bid
08-09 $922.7 million
09-10 $1,099.6 million
10-11 $1,100.8 million
11-12 $1,155.9 million
12-13 $1,170.9 million
07-08 $969.7 million
After the bid
08-09 $1,016 million
09-10 $1,116.8 million
10-11 $1,099.1 million
11-12 $1,205.8 million
12-13 $1,321.2 million
– $140,000 for technical support for pearl culture in Tanzania in 2012.
– 2750 scholarships in Africa.
– Number of African states receiving assistance has doubled between 2008-10.
– $270,000 reviewing agriculture and fisheries management in Eritrea between 2008-10.
– $300,000 in 2009 for membership of the convention on biological diversity in Kenya.
– $130,000 for peace building in Sierra leone and Burundi ion 2010.
– $17.3 million between 2009-13 to help African countries develop effective law and justice frameworks.
– $150,000 on the mango supply chain practices in Cambodia.
– $647,000 on fisheries development in Cambodia.
– $40,000 in 2010 for a scoping mission for contemporary political and diplomatic challenges for small states in the Caribbean training program.
– $330,000 in 2010 for a Caribbean development training program.
– $150,000 in 2010 for a Caribbean scholarship program.
– $11,000 on climate change in the Caribbean in 2010.
– $300,000 for farming initiatives in Egypt.
– Spending on UN, Commonwealth and other international organisations to jump from $342 million in 2011-12 to $457 million in 2015-16.