Asylum Seeker Deal Cushions PNG From Australian Aid Cuts

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$10 billion cut not likely to be heavily felt in PNG: Academic

By Franklin Kolma

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 23, 2014) – Although there is much scepticism regarding the Manus based Australian detention centre, international aid analysts are saying it is what keeps PNG immune to the effects of the recently announced Australian aid budget cut.

Last week, Australia's Treasurer Joe Hockey announced in a midyear economic and fiscal outlook that foreign aid will be cut by a further US$3 billion in addition to the US$7 billion cut that was imposed earlier this year in May.

Now, academics and economic analysts are predicting major negative impacts on countries in the Pacific that rely heavily on foreign aid as the budget cut will see to almost a third of previously dispersible aid dissolving within the next four years.

One Australian academic in particular, Australia National University's Director of the Development Policy Centre Professor Stephen Howes, says although the Australian aid budget cut will have a devastating effect on countries that have humanitarian and societal programmes that draw financial resources from Australian aid, Papua New Guinea will most likely see very little difference in the aid brought forward by Australia.

He said that this was mainly because of the much criticised and highly controversial asylum seeker deal between the two countries. He added that whether this was reason to think of the detention centre as a saving entity was up to the individual Papua New Guinean.

Professor Howes also brought out the fact that is was alarming that the Australian public did little in the way of questioning what he said was the largest cut in the Australian aid budget ever.

"We've never been less generous. At the moment there's not a big public reaction to this. There wasn't to the earlier cuts.

"And you've got to think that emboldened the government to think 'alright we'll cut it again' and by this huge amount and there has been very little outcry," said the Professor.

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