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Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 415. Updated Tuesday, 24 June 2014

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Overseas aid policy overhauled

A new policy for delivering and evaluating overseas aid programs has been announced by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop.

Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra, Ms Bishop said strict performance benchmarks would ensure aid spending was accountable to taxpayers and achieved results, within "a responsible, affordable and sustainable aid budget of over $5 billion a year".

The Minister said she had established a new development innovation hub in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to engage creative thinkers from inside and outside the public sector, from Australia and overseas, to look at new ways to deliver aid.

New focus on growth

"New performance benchmarks and mutual obligations with partner governments will assess the performance of our country programs and inform future funding decisions," Ms Bishop said.

"Each country and regional program will develop an Aid Investment Plan which will outline how aid dollars are used to promote economic growth in ways that provide pathways out of poverty," she said.

"I aim to focus on fewer, larger investments, to increase the impact and effectiveness of our aid."

The Minister said the world had changed and traditional approaches to aid were no longer good enough.

"The most effective and proven way to reduce poverty is to promote sustainable economic growth," Ms Bishop said.

Under the new regime, aid funding will go to creating jobs, boosting incomes and increasing economic security in the Indo-Pacific region.

"Under this new policy, new aid investments will consider ways to engage the private sector and promote private sector growth," she said.

"Aid for trade investments will be increased to 20 per cent of the aid budget by 2020." She said more than 90 per cent of country and regional program funding would be spent "in our neighbourhood, the Indo-Pacific, because this is where we can make the most difference".

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