In a powerful act of Christian unity and prophetic advocacy, leaders within twelve of Australia’s church denominations and networks spoke out against budget cuts to Australia’s aid program.
Australian Christian Churches and C3, Catholic and Anglican, Uniting and Lutheran, Baptist and Wesleyan Methodist, Salvation Army and Seventh Day Adventist, Vineyard and Churches of Christ, all spoke with one voice to call on the Government to “reverse course”. They called on the Treasurer – himself a committed Christian – to halt further cuts to Australia’s aid program – cuts which undermine initiatives to tackle poverty in our region and beyond.
Our part of the world – Asia and the Pacific – is home to the majority of the world’s poorest people and is also the area of the world most vulnerable to natural disasters. These cuts to aid are not what a good neighbour should do, and they are also short-sighted and self-defeating. Australia has a vital stake in regional stability, security and prosperity. By pulling back from our proper contribution to the great regional and global challenges of poverty and inequality, disease and insecurity, climate change and sustainability, we undermine that.
These cuts also mean that Australia is giving the lowest level of aid relative to income in our nation’s history. After twenty-six years of economic growth, we have never been wealthier. We have also never been less generous.
Under tough budget circumstances, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, promised never to “balance the books on the backs of the poorest people” and he delivered on that promise. Sadly, making budget cuts at the expense of the world’s poorest people seems to be exactly what our Government has done and continues to do.
The budget is a moral document and it speaks to our priorities as a nation.
We have found plenty of money to increase spending on the military. Yet we are cutting our contribution to true human security among our poorest neighbours: things like safe water and sanitation, education and basic health care, good governance and clean justice systems – the basics of dignified lives with hope and opportunity for many in our region.
Is it any wonder that so many church leaders felt called to speak out together?
Although they were not able to sway the Government this time, when Christians speak, and pray and act together, our voice is powerful. Please join with those twelve church leaders by raising your voice to speak out in support of Australian aid: micahaustralia.org and australianaid.org