Gates Discusses Polio Eradication, Foreign Aid With Australian PM; New Commitments Announced

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on Tuesday met with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Canberra “to lobby for a financial commitment from Australia for polio and to discuss foreign aid,” Sydney’s The Telegraph reports (Robertson, 5/28). In a statement with Minister for Foreign Affairs Bob Carr, Gillard announced an additional pledge of “AU$80 million [$77 million] from 2015-2018 to [the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI)], following a AU$50 million [$48 million] commitment by the government in 2011-2014,” Devex notes (Morden, 5/28). In a speech at Australia’s National Press Club, Gates “said progress towards an aid target of 0.5 percent of gross national income was important,” ABC News writes, and provides a video of his speech (5/28). “Earlier this month, the Australian government announced a 2013-2014 foreign aid budget of AU$5.7 billion ($5.49 billion), composing 0.37 percent of the country’s gross national income,” Devex writes, adding, “Much to the development community’s dismay, however, Australia deferred for the second year in a row its commitment to raise aid spending to 0.5 percent of GNI until 2017-2018” (5/28).