George Christensen makes a good point here. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a more ‘Australia First’ approach towards foreign aid?
Sky News, April 8, 2017:
Liberal National MP George Christensen has called for all foreign aid to be suspended in the wake of Cyclone Debbie.
Mr Christensen has written on his webpage that Australia’s commitment to foreign aid is an ‘absolute insult’ to those people who have lost everything due to the cyclone.
‘People had their homes blown to pieces, flooded and left without electricity for more than 10 days but have been denied disaster relief funding.
‘Meanwhile, they hear on the news that Australia has just committed another $320 million in foreign aid to Afghanistan,’ he wrote.
‘If we can’t afford to get aid to our own citizens in time of need, we shouldn’t be sending aid overseas.’
He has also taken issue with Qld’s Labor government, saying affected people are missing out on recovery payments due to a ‘bungled’ delivery process.
‘It’s been more than a week now and I am still getting calls from people at their wits end because the State Government is telling them they weren’t affected by the cyclone.
‘Some of these homes were right in Cyclone Debbie’s path so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the Big Bad Wolf that came and blew their roof off,’ he wrote.
He said until the area was classified as a Category C, meaning affected people would receive more government funding, ‘not one dollar should be spent on foreigners.’
Mr Christensen represents the seat of Dawson, which encompasses some of the towns worst hit by the cyclone including Ayr, Bowen, Mackay, and Proserpine.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has rejected the calls to divert aid, saying substantial relief was being delivered by the federal and state governments to the affected communities.
The Prime Minister acknowleged people were suffering, but also pushed the importance of foreign aid programs.
‘We are a generous and responsible foreign aid donor and it is a very important part of our international diplomacy.’
It was also an important part of being a responsible and effective global citizen, he told reporters in Port Moresby.
Papua New Guinea is Australia’s largest aid recipient receiving just under half a billion dollars a year.