Where Does Our Foreign Affairs Money Go?

Hot on the heels of my earlier post on the UN’s nuclear weapons ‘ban’, a lot of people have asked me how much money Australia hands over to organisations like the UN.

It’s a question I’m regularly asked and very understandable: because once you see just how much time is wasted at the UN, it’s only natural to wonder how much of your taxes go into it and other similar organisations.

Those who have read TMR’s 2017-18 federal budget analysis will know that:

  • $5.7 billion is scheduled to be spent on foreign affairs for the 2017-18 financial year.
  • $6.7 billion was spent on foreign affairs in 2016-17 – which was about $600 million over budget and about $1.2 billion more than was spent in 2015-16:

Speaking of the foreign aid budget, Bishop was ‘only’ supposed to spend $6.09 billion in 2016-17 (see table 4) – an increase of 11.3% on the previous year’s spend of $5.47 billion. Instead, she ended up spending $6.69 billion – an increase of 22.3% on the previous year’s spend (see page 6-51). Why has nobody asked about this? Where did the money go? What benefit did we get?

  • Most of the foreign affairs budget is spent on ‘foreign aid’ – about $3.4 billion is scheduled to be spent in 2017-18, with about $4.3 billion having been spent in 2016-17.

So, once you take out foreign aid, where does the rest go?

Well, if you go here and scroll down to table 4.1, you’ll see a further breakdown this year’s foreign aid budget, which includes:

  • $466 million paid to ‘international organisations’; and
  • $1.09 billion for ‘diplomacy’ which includes ‘international climate change engagement’.

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If anyone has a further breakdown of these figures from an equally reliable source, then please let me know and I’ll put it up for everyone to see.

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