Vonnie's View with QT columnist Yvonne Gardiner
Vonnie's View with QT columnist Yvonne Gardiner Ipswich Advertiser

Why should Third World suffer for our roads?

Incoming Treasurer Joe Hockey.
Incoming Treasurer Joe Hockey.

HANDS up all those readers who want poor people in developing countries to have better access to clean water, sanitation, and education.

I guess that's a no-brainer and the majority of us would vote for that.

Now if you had to choose between improving the living conditions of people overseas and upgrading the roads you travel on, how would that affect your thinking?

It appears that our new Federal Government has decided on the latter, slashing $4.5 billion in four years from the foreign aid budget to give highway drivers an easier ride.

Are we really so fiscally stretched in Australia that, at the outset, our miserly incoming government picks on the most disadvantaged to display its mean-spirited nature?

Who would complain about Australians giving Third World countries a helping hand when it heals villagers with tuberculosis or prevents blindness?

We're always being told to "look at the big picture" and take a global perspective.

That's precisely what international aid does.

Compared with other countries which benefit from our generosity, we are a rich nation.

Despite the budget blow-out and desire to bring federal finances back to surplus, we should aim to preserve our reputation as a nation that shares our wealth with others less fortunate.

The concept of "noblesse oblige" - those blessed with good fortune responsibly aiding others in poorer circumstances - has a strong presence in the Australian psyche.

We are renowned as among the most generous "givers" on the planet.

Aid groups are reeling from treasurer Joe Hockey's Scrooge-like announcement.

Before the election, Australian Council for International Development executive director Marc Purcell called on the major parties to keep their existing commitments to the international aid program.

"Our call to the parties has back up evidence to show that there's really strong support from the Australian public for international aid," he said.

"I think it's important to put it in perspective, that it's only 1.4 per cent of the entire federal budget.

"Disproportionately, it's suffered a lot of cuts and deferrals over the last couple of years."

Purcell believes that foreign aid makes a big difference in alleviating poverty, so it's actually an investment in our region and in Australia's future.

Australian aid spending is currently at 0.37 per cent of national income or 37 cents in every $100.

This meagre amount improves the lives of millions of people in developing countries.

Australian aid has wiped out polio from the Pacific, AusAID proudly announces.

Our aid has led to more than 1.5 million children being immunised against measles and polio in Papua New Guinea.

Our water supply and sanitation programs are providing clean water for nearly 500,000 people in Tanzania, South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

"Australian aid also improves our regional security.

"We help our partner governments to improve law and order.

"We help them to prevent and recover from conflict. We help them manage threats such as people trafficking, illicit drugs, HIV/AIDS and other diseases," states AusAID.

Must we cut back on these good works to build roads?

After suffering the chaos on the Ipswich Motorway for countless years before its transformation, many of us can sympathise with drivers travelling on bad roads.

And to be fair, there has been criticism of aid programs in recent years, that too much of the money has gone into the bank accounts of rich Australian companies.

Better scrutiny of where our government money is going certainly seems overdue.

Aid organisations should welcome greater scrutiny, as should any entity that feeds at the public trough.

World Vision Australia chief executive Tim Costello says the victorious Coalition's planned cuts to foreign aid are "very short-sighted and pretty devastating".

"It's really cheap to say: 'We are just going to look after ourselves - charity begins at home'," Costello said.

"We can do both. This is not a good global look."


Count me out of the tattoo craze

MARKED MAN: Soccer star David Beckham shows off his famous tattoos.
MARKED MAN: Soccer star David Beckham shows off his famous tattoos. Getty Images

Hence my ears are in an "entire" state, devoid of piercings, as is the rest of my ageing frame.

I buy comfortable shoes, refusing to shoehorn my splayed feet into ridiculously designed points.

My eyebrows aren't as neat as they could be if I invited the discomfort of plucking them.

All in all, I'd probably represent a major challenge for a beautician.

These days, tattoos seem to top the list of painful processes that men and women endure in a bid to be more attractive.

There's no doubt that some tattoos are appealing on certain bodies - a work of art in fact.

Although I just can't fathom why the permanence of body art isn't more of a deterrent before the "canvas" has been decorated.

Traditional tattoos are made by repeatedly puncturing the skin with a needle saturated with coloured ink.

Given that most women change their tastes in fashion as often as they change their sheets, I wonder why they'd be intentionally stuck with a particular body embellishment ad infinitum.

Tattoos aren't easily rubbed off.

Yes, they're flavour of the month now and their popularity seems to be growing. But be warned, if they need to be removed, the procedure is expensive, time-consuming and leaves scarring ... and it hurts a lot. Count me out.

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