The Morrison Government’s announcement that it will expand its assistance to the Pacific is welcome but misses an opportunity to address other needs in the region, says Caritas Australia.
The government yesterday announced the creation of the $2 billion Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific to develop energy, communications and transport projects.
In a statement yesterday, Caritas Australia chief Paul O’Callaghan said while the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility will address key Pacific infrastructure needs, other priorities like climate change financing and local aid are really what Pacific Islanders are calling for.
“As a former Australian High Commissioner to Samoa, I am aware that the highest policy priority presented by the Pacific’s political and Church leaders has been for Australia to demonstrate leadership in its own climate policy, particularly on national emissions and to commit a reasonable share on climate finance,” Mr O’Callaghan said.
“The latest announcement continues to ignore that regional priority.”
“Our Pacific partners from Kiribati to Fiji are the worst affected, while having contributed the least to global warming. They look to Australia to take real action on reducing emissions, so that the region’s future is secure.
“Prime Minister Morrison is right to point to the need for improved infrastructure in the Pacific. It’s a real need and Australia is well placed to contribute well in this area over the coming decade. There are various ways to finance such development”.
“Also, basing Australia’s new pivot to the region on a concessional loan model which was rejected by previous Australian governments because that model was found to cause debt traps for the most vulnerable countries is not an ideal policy approach.”
Caritas Australia released its "State of the Environment for Oceania 2018 Report: Waters of life, Oceans of Mercy" yesterday. The report contains dozens of first-person accounts and stories relating to the impact of climate change on communities from Papua New Guinea and Kiribati to Tonga, Samoa and the Carteret Islands.
Climate finance and grassroots aid missing from the new pivot to the Pacific (Caritas Australia)
Caritas’s State of the Environment report (Caritas Australia)