Questioned whether DFAT’s internal review of Australian aid to World Vision in the Palestinian Territories had been completed and when the decision to suspend aid would be reviewed.
I would like to know about the review of aid to the Middle East. I wanted to check, firstly, whether the internal review has been finalised?
Whole interaction (in two parts) with Mr Ewen McDonald (Deputy Secretary, DFAT) and Mr Marc Innes-Brown (First Assistant Secretary, Middle East and Africa Division, DFAT) during Senate Estimates (Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio).
Senator WONG: I would like to know about the review of aid to the Middle East. I note that the minister has been generous enough to ensure that Senator Moore and I have been briefed but I wanted to check, firstly, whether the internal review has been finalised?
Mr McDonald : Can you clarify? Is that a review of our Middle East aid program; is that right?
Senator WONG: Yes. I think he knows what I am talking about.
Mr Innes-Brown : Yes. I am just getting ready. It has been completed for where we are at. There are obviously some other processes underway and if they throw up more information we will conduct further inquiries, but for now we are not conducting any further inquiries.
Senator WONG: Is it correct to say that DFAT’s internal review has been finalised?
Mr Innes-Brown : Yes. The work that has been done to date, yes.
Senator WONG: The thing I was noting is that Minister Bishop is quoted in an article.
Senator WONG: Just to tie up on the aid to the Palestinian territories, I understand that the internal review has been completed. Is that correct?
Mr Innes-Brown : Yes.
Senator WONG: However, at this stage does aid remain suspended into the territories.
Mr Innes-Brown : Not completely. Aid to World Vision is suspended.
Senator WONG: I am sorry. I should have clarified that. Yes, to World Vision in the Palestinian territories.
Mr Innes-Brown : Yes, that is correct.
Senator WONG: When is the government proposing to make a decision in relation to that suspension?
Mr Innes-Brown : We are waiting for the court process but we will also be interested to see the results of two independent inquiries that World Vision itself is conducting. One, as I mentioned in the last estimates, is being conducted by World Vision Australia. The major one is World Vision International has commissioned a forensic audit and that is ongoing. They tell us that it probably will not be finished until around mid-year, June.
Senator WONG: Do you anticipate a decision on the suspension by the government prior to June?
Mr Innes-Brown : I think we will be heavily influenced by the court case.