Australian Catholics ranging from senior clergy to school students have called upon the Treasurer, Scott Morrison, to stop the government’s planned cuts to Australian Aid in the upcoming Federal Budget.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane recorded a YouTube message encouraging Australians to support the aid program, contrasting Australia’s ability to respond to natural disasters with the lack of emergency services in many neighbouring countries.
The recent “quite severe cuts to Australian Aid”, Archbishop Coleridge explained, “have really restricted our capacity to reach out to those beyond our own shores to help those who are often in desperate need.”
The voices of church leaders have been echoed by churchgoers and schools students across the country, which are also appealing to the Treasurer.
“We have the opportunity to give, especially to our close neighbours who are nowhere near as wealthy and as well off as we are, and Australia needs to help provide them with the opportunities that we have.” said Anna Kerrigan, a student at St Scholastica’s College in Glebe NSW.
Caritas Australia CEO Paul O’Callaghan says the cuts fly in the face of Australia’s history of positive engagement with global poverty reduction efforts.
“It is appropriate that we contribute to these efforts as Australia is surrounded by poorer countries.” Mr O’Callaghan said. “We’re calling on the Australian government to stop the cuts.”
“We’re conscious as a Catholic community in Australia, that there’s a lot of concern that in reducing our commitment in this area, we’re pulling away from an important role that Australia has played.”
These calls follow a joint letter from 12 Christian church leaders, including Bishop Greg O’Kelly, of Port Pirie, and Chair of Caritas Australia, calling on Scott Morrison to not proceed with the scheduled cuts to Australians Aid.
The government has foreshadowed a cut of $224 million to the aid budget, further compounding cuts in 2014 and 2015. Together these cuts will total over $3.4billion and will bring Australian Aid to its lowest ever level, just above 0.2% of Gross National Income.
Watch Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge’s video message - http://youtu.be/vlzY_IMnG0k
Watch students urge the government to Stop the Clock on aid cuts – http://youtu.be/s6FlLCeVvv8
Watch Caritas CEO Paul O’Callaghan’s video message – http://youtu.be/bWtZw7vQ7ZI
For more details, go to www.caritas.org.au or phone 1800 024 413.