As an Australian aid worker and having witnessed first hand
the effects of aid projects on developing countries, I am concerned at the
approach Aus Aid is now taking.
At a recent Aus Aid seminar "Aid
Business, Good Business", Mr Gordon Bilney, the Minister for Development
Co-Operation, stated that the bottom line for aid is to expand export
opportunities for Australian goods and services. For every $1 in aid it is
expected that $5 is returned to Australia.
The Asian Development Bank
representative supported this by saying that the most effective approach to
reducing poverty is economic development.
This approach invests aid in to
those who already own factories and industries or who hold positions of power,
often in major cities. The theory is that this investment in the wealthy class
will result in wealth trickling down to the poor. Research results have found
that in fact this "trickle down" of benefits rarely occurs and is more likely to
prove detrimental to the poor. In fact the gap between the wealthy and the poor
who don't have the means to invest in or benefit from the economic growth,
In response to these findings, a new approach to development is
emerging. The indicators are no longer economic development but improvements in
literacy, health, food security and family planning.
So who really
benefits from Australian aid? This seminar clearly indicated that Australian aid
is aimed at aiding Australians.
The question for Australians is whether
it is ethical to promote Australian trade at the expense of the poor in
- Ann Hickey, Former Cambodian aid worker,