Australian Aid after the ‘Golden Consensus’: From Aid Policy to Development Policy?

Australian Journal of International Affairs

Author/s (editor/s):

Benjamin Day

Publication year:

2016

Publication type:

Journal article

Find this publication at:
Taylor & Francis

Published in Australian Journal of International Affairs, 11 September 2016, pp. 1-16.

In the decade preceding the election of the Abbott Coalition government in 2013, a so-called ‘golden consensus ‘governed Australian aid policy. During this period, Australia’s aid spending increased by over 80 per cent in real terms. However, after winning government in the 2013 federal election, the Abbott government made a series of significant and unexpected aid policy decisions, cutting the aid budget three times in fifteen months and integrating AusAID, Australia’s aid agency, into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This article considers the future role of aid in Australia’s diplomacy primarily by engaging with a prior question: how was it possible for the golden consensus to be uprooted so easily? Conducting a post-mortem reveals that Australia’s development constituency bears some responsibility for the fragility of the consensus. This analysis also reveals the critical role the development constituency will play in determining the extent to which Australia is able to embrace the ‘beyond aid’agenda. To meet this contemporary challenge, the development community must heed the lessons of the collapse of the golden consensus and, in particular, overcome its reticence to engage in broader foreign policy debates.

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