This week it came to IDCC’s attention that on 6 March 2018, Greg Brown wrote an article for The Australian which called out foreign aid advisors (contractors) as being paid exorbitant salaries for their work.
While Brown implied that international contractors were not deserving of their salary, he failed to recognise the contribution contractors make to the successful delivery of international aid.
IDCC has sent the below letter to the Editor of The Australian to address this misrepresentation.
14 March 2018
We are writing in response to Greg Brown’s article ‘Foreign aid pay rates in spotlight’ (The Australian, 6 March).
Foreign aid is not provided as cash to people or countries. It is used to fund projects such as educating children, training midwives, improving rural health services, building essential infrastructure and more.
The Australian government’s aid program has engaged contractors and consultants, selected through merit-based, competitive tender processes, to design and deliver its programs in the field for more than 40 years. The main change in recent times has been the introduction of an Adviser Remuneration Framework in 2011, which has seen the term ‘adviser’ widely used to describe contractors.
Contractors (or ‘Advisers’) work in developing countries such as Papua New Guinea, Afghanistan, Indonesia, and across the Pacific Islands. The work often involves supervising teams of local staff, handling difficult transactions with local governments and contractors, being scrupulous in adhering to codes of ethical conduct and guarding against fraud and corruption, and achieving measurable outcomes. But the results are worth it – more children in schools, fewer maternal and infant deaths, reduced poverty, healthier people and more job opportunities.
Pay rates, regulated by the Adviser Remuneration Framework, have been benchmarked by the Australian government against world standards, and are not generous by any means for this type of work. Exemption from paying Australian income tax is permitted by law when any Australian works overseas for more than 90 days (except, as noted by Greg Brown, for Australian diplomats, who receive other tax-related benefits).
The work is difficult, and the skills required are substantial. Giving up a comfortable life in Australia to work in a developing country with a range of daily challenges requires experience, skills, commitment and passion. Australians can be proud what is being achieved by many good people working as advisers to make a real difference on the ground.
Brian Ramsay, Therese Faulkner, Colin Adams
Directors, International Development Contractors Community (IDCC)
Address: IDCC, GPO Box 2067 Canberra City ACT 2601
Phone: 0400 440 730 (Brian), 0434 607 595 (Therese)