Official Development Assistance Multilateral Replenishment Obligations (Special Appropriation) Bill 2019

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Mr HAWKE (Mitchell—Minister for International Development and the Pacific and Assistant Defence Minister) (09:32): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

Today I am pleased to introduce the Official Development Assistance Multilateral Replenishment Obligations (Special Appropriation) Bill 2019.

The purpose of this bill is to appropriate money from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, to meet Australia's existing and future obligations to:

the World Bank's International Development Association;

the World Bank's debt relief schemes including the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative;

the Asian Development Bank's Asian Development Fund;

the Global Environment Facility Trust Fund; and

the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol.

This bill will provide a standing appropriation to meet Australia's international development commitments. Consistent with our membership arrangements of these organisations, Australia pledges to replenish our financial contribution every three to four years with payments being made over a three- to 10-year period.

This special appropriations bill will allow the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to meet our ongoing financial obligations to the six specified funds without the need for annual appropriations to be made. This reflects a change to the appropriation arrangements instituted in 2014-15.

Funds to meet the commitments authorised by this bill will come from within the agreed official development assistance budget.

Our contributions to these organisations constitute an important component of Australia's support for the promotion, protection and improvement of the international rules based order.

These organisations complement Australia's efforts at the country and regional level to promote the prosperity and security of the Indo-Pacific region.

The commitments outlined in this bill will contribute to and be made in our national interest.

There are six funds to be supported through the passage of this bill.

The World Bank's International Development Association operates the largest pool of concessional finance in the world.

It provides grants, technical expertise and concessional loans to promote growth and reduce poverty in the world's poorest and most vulnerable countries.

Australia's contribution has supported 1.5 million new labour market programs across the world, including 3,500 young people to complete job-ready training and enter the workforce.

The World Bank managed debt relief schemes, the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative, provide debt relief to eligible poor countries. In 2005, the Howard government made a 40-year commitment to support this fund. Between 2001 and 2015, the average decline in crippling debt in eligible countries has fallen by 1.5 per cent of GDP, freeing up local government spending on health and education and reducing reliance on foreign aid.

Australia's contributions to the Asian Development Fund, managed by the Asian Development Bank, provide grants to developing countries at moderate to high risk of debt distress, to promote poverty reduction and accelerate development in the poorer countries of the Asia and Pacific region.

Our contributions have assisted to lift 16 million people out of poverty and improve economic growth in recipient nations.

And Australia has been providing support to the Global Environment Facility Trust Fund since its inception.

Our contributions have assisted the protection of over 350 million hectares of seascapes and ocean life, supported the phase out of over 29,000 tonnes of ozone-depleting pollutants and the safe disposal of 200,000 tonnes of chemicals, including in the Pacific. The fund's work has supported a 60 per cent increase in tuna stocks in the Pacific.

Australia's contributions to the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol assist developing countries to phase out ozone-depleting substances. Collective action through this fund has seen over 215,461 tonnes of ozone-depleting substances eliminated since 1991.

Conclusion

Australia's engagement with these global bodies and our participation in international institutions must and will be done in our national interests.

Australia leverages the financial resources, expertise, influence and geographic reach of these organisations to achieve greater development outcomes.

These organisations bring financial resources, policy influence and convening power that complement and enhance Australia's bilateral programs.

I recommend this bill to the House.

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