International aid

Why Australia should cut Indonesia’s aid

After the execution of convicted Australian drug traffickers, Andrew Chan and Myruan Sukumuran in April of this year, tensions between Australia and Indonesia have been high. To express ‘it’s displeasure’, as according to foreign minister Julie Bishop, Australia temporarily withdrew its ambassador from Indonesia. Despite the 2 men being rehabilitated, as well as Australia’s enormous contributions to Indonesia in its times of need, as well as the fact that arguably the executions were in contradiction with international law, Indonesia proceeded with the execution, in part to portray its strength towards its Southern neighbour. 

Despite cuts, Australia still provides Indonesia with 366 million dollars in humanitarian aid a year. While I am not opposed to the concept of aid, and assisting those who are poor and needy, I do not believe, that Australia should be handing out enormous sums of money toward countries, that display contempt for our values and way of life.

During the saga leading up to the executions, prime minister Tony Abbott invoked the example of the Boxing Day tsunami, in effect stating that given Australia’s monetary and human resources contribution towards Indonesia at the time, it should respond in good will, and not execute the Australian citizens Chan and Sukumaran. Indonesian people reacted angrily, leaving coins at the Australian embassy, and demanding that the Australian prime minister apologized. 

Clearly, anti-Australianism is high in Indonesia, despite its neighbour’s contribution in aid, and tourism, that greatly benefits the Indonesian economy. 

Aside from this marked hostility, it is clear, that Indonesia’s shares contrasting values to Australia on human rights. Indonesia has a poor record in regards to Christians, and has been well known for being a safe haven for people smugglers, who take advantage of desperate and disadvantaged people and illegally pile them onto rickety and unsafe boats. Promises of a better life often send these vulnerable people to their death, under the watch of the people smugglers.

Why is it, that a country that holds such animosity towards Australia, is ungrateful for our past efforts in providing aid, refuses to take action over its poor human rights record, and has freely allowed people smugglers to send aspirational Australian refugees to their death, still receives a charity service, financed directly by the Australian tax payer?

366 million dollars is a great deal of money, which could be otherwise spent in Australia on drug rehabilitation clinics, support for victims of domestic violence, or on any reputable Australian charity. In my view, there are hundreds, if not thousands of better ways to spend this money, than to allow it into the hands of the Indonesians.

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