The Straits Times
Published on Dec 18, 2012

Australia under fire for diverting foreign aid meant for asylum-seekers


SYDNEY (AFP) - Aid groups on Tuesday attacked Australia's plans to divert hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid to help pay for asylum-seekers already in the country, saying it was a blow for the world's poor.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr said up to A$375 million (S$482 million) would be spent on basic subsistence for refugees waiting to have their claims heard in Australia. It will cover food, shelter and other essential items.

"It's absolutely fair," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"The fact is the OECD guidelines provide that if you're spending money on refugees and potential refugees on your own soil, it's to be counted as if you were spending money on refugees or potential refugees in refugee camps around the world," Mr Carr said.