Australia unveils new development policy to strengthen Indo-Pacific ties

Aug 9, 2023 | Blog, News

In a significant stride toward fostering stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, the Albanese Government has introduced a transformative international development policy. Representing the first such policy in nearly a decade, this initiative is poised to bolster Australia’s position as a preferred partner within the region, marked by shared values and mutual interests.

“Australia is using all elements of our national power to advance our interests and shape the world for the better,” says Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Penny Wong, underscoring the overarching vision driving this policy shift.

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong (R) on a tour of climate change impacts in the Marshall Islands, October 2022 (Nathan Fulton/DFAT)

This ground-breaking long-term policy spearheads the Australian Government’s endeavours in addressing multifaceted regional challenges, encompassing poverty alleviation, economic growth, healthcare advancement, infrastructural investment, climate change mitigation, and gender equality. By charting a course grounded in effectiveness, transparency, responsiveness, and accountability, the policy is meticulously crafted to align with the present-day dynamics of opportunities and challenges.

Australia’s commitment to embracing locally-led solutions takes center stage within this paradigm shift. “Development and prosperity underpin peace and stability,” Senator Penny Wong said, highlighting the pivotal role of development in ensuring regional harmony.

The policy proposes a strategic investment in solutions originating within the region itself, thereby fostering local employment, economic avenues, and constructive partnerships. A novel fund will be established to extend direct support to community organizations, steering local development outcomes towards success.

The policy underscores gender equality and climate action, integrating them into the core of the development agenda. “This new policy reflects who we are,” Senator Wong said, affirming Australia’s commitment to inclusivity and sustainability. Through the institution of new benchmarks, Australian development assistance is committed to confronting climate-induced adversities and enhancing the quality of life for women and girls.

Underpinning this policy are the Australian Government’s substantial investments in international development, exemplified by a $1.7 billion allocation over five years, underscoring a dedication to sustained growth in the development program. In tandem with the policy’s launch, a comprehensive performance and delivery framework has been unveiled, aimed at guiding policy implementation and evaluating its efficacy.

Furthermore, the Albanese Government has acted upon the insights gleaned from the Development Finance Review, conducted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Embracing all eight recommendations from the review, the government intends to nurture collaborations with impact investors and philanthropic entities. “Australia is there, not only in times of crisis, but is working with the region to strengthen its resilience and to help deliver its aspirations,” Senator Wong said, echoing the government’s commitment to sustained engagement.

Aligned with the recommendations, the government has established Australian Development Investments, a novel initiative poised to inject up to $250 million as a catalyst for private impact investments across the Indo-Pacific. This step is anticipated to yield far-reaching positive consequences in the realm of developmental finance.

The formulation of this ground-breaking development policy, coupled with the Development Finance Review, is a result of extensive consultations across Australia and the Indo-Pacific region.