Australia has broken a promise to the world’s poorest people by cutting its foreign aid spending, activist Sir Bob Geldof says.
Geldof said he was dismayed Australia had reduced overseas direct aid (ODA) when it was one of the richest nations in the world.
“The Australian government promised to increase ODA to 0.5 per cent (of GDP),” Geldof said.
“The Australian people gave their word to the poorest people on this planet.
“You can’t mess with a sovereign promise to the poor, they’re too weak, they’re too vulnerable.
“You can’t f*** around with them.”
Geldof made the remarks at an international AIDS conference in Melbourne on Thursday, during a discussion that highlighted the link between poverty and the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
His criticism was levelled at the former Labor government under Julia Gillard as well as the current coalition government under Tony Abbott.
“I was dismayed by Gillard’s refusal to up it. Abbott made it part of his election campaign to cut back aid so they’ve kept that promise,” Geldof said.
“When a government makes a promise regardless of its political stripes, it is not signing the name of the prime minister of the day to that promise, they are signing the sovereign will of the people to that promise.”
He said Britain achieved its overseas aid target as a result of commitments from three consecutive governments.
The Abbott government has locked its aid spending at $5 billion a year.
The government expects to save $7.6 billion over five years by freezing its aid budget and pegging any increases to inflation from 2016/17.