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Concern over Indonesia aid cut

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Experts have warned that foreign aid cuts to Indonesia in the upcoming federal budget will be seen as retribution for the execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Assistance to Indonesia is expected to be slashed in next week’s budget as part of a wider $1 billion cut to foreign aid – the largest to the program in Australian history, according to a Fairfax report.

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Foreign Minister Julie Bishop warned on Monday last week’s executions would have “short, medium and long-term consequences”, but experts said the planned aid cuts could be ill-received.

Australian Council for International Development director Marc Purcell said aid cuts to Indonesia were always going to be part of the budget, but had placed Ms Bishop between a “rock and a hard place”.

Julie Bishop
Julie Bishop has remained tight-lipped on diplomatic consequences. Photo: Getty

“There is a segment of the public baying for retribution by cutting the aid,” Mr Pucell told Fairfax.

“But it could also risk diplomatic relations with Indonesia if it is misjudged.”

Indonesia is one of Australia’s largest aid recipients and was last year offered $605.3 million in assistance.

In Geneva, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies research fellow Robin Davies said the cuts would be poorly-received by Indonesia.

“It will certainly be seen in some areas as retribution,” Mr Davies said.

“I’m not sure the government will be too concerned if it is seen as retaliation.”

According to the report, the cut to aid is understood to be so severe that ambassadors to African countries including Kenya, Botswana and Ethiopia begged the Department of Foreign Affairs at a meeting in March not to cut aid to their countries.

A Liberal MP at the meeting told Fairfax ambassadors addressed members of the DFAT joint standing committee and “implored” them not to reduce aid to the impoverished nations.

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