MEMBER for Mallee Andrew Broad has called on the federal government to restore foreign aid in the budget and secure Australia’s place as a world leader.
Mr Broad told ABC TV’s 7.30 on Wednesday that Australia, as a wealthy country, had a moral responsibility to help others in need.
“It's always been a passion of mine to realise that Australia's place in the region is not just for our own benefit. We're a prosperous country. We have an obligation to be good global citizens,” Mr Broad said.
“And I think if you look at the average Australian, they aspire to more than that. They want to see a government that has got a global view, not just a selfish view.”
Mr Broad has criticised the federal government for cutting its foreign aid from $5 billion to $3.8b.
The largest recent cuts occurred under former prime minster Tony Abbott, though Australia’s foreign aid contributions as a percentage of GDP have mostly been in decline since the later years of Bob Hawke’s government.
Mr Abbott defended the cuts at the time and said a government facing debt and deficits should not borrow money to give it to people overseas.
Mr Broad urged his fellow Coalition members to consider his proposal on the basis of its appeal with voters who might not have voted for a conservative party otherwise.
“What we do in aid defines who we want to be as a people,” Mr Broad said.
“Now, do we want to be people that are prosperous, hardworking and generous? Or do we want to be a people that are prosperous, hardworking and selfish?
“And I think the right side of politics, which is where I sit, probably hasn't captured the moral high ground on aid yet, and giving young Australians a reason to vote for us.”
Mr Broad’s appearance on the ABC follows his speech in Parliament on March 30 where he spoke out against foreign aid cuts and global increases in military spending.
“As we think about our budget going forward, it is time we started to have a real discussion about what the Australian government's response is going to be to contributing to the world in the way of aid rather than contributing to the world in the way of defence,” Mr Broad said.
“I think that we should start to increase our foreign aid expenditure from $3.8 billion up. The world seems to be arming itself. We should break that trend and actually become more compassionate and more responsive.”
Earlier in March, Mr Broad welcomed Australia’s $24 billion decision to purchase the next-generation Joint Strike Fighter combat jets from a consortium led by the United States.