John McTernan - Thinker in Residence, South Australian Government
What a great achievement for everyone, every box ticked, every post a winner.

A 14% increase in our contribution to the UN next year? Why?

It rankles.

Our government has cut Australia's defence spending to the lowest level (of GDP) since 1938.

Every Australian Government department is making searing spending cuts.   Our border protection services are  stretched way beyond breaking (but we retain the magic pudding ability to find billions to fund all comers who decide they'll take the express route to migration by boat).

And yet in the face of that, we will increase our contribution to the most bloated, inefficient, wasteful and unaccountable plaything of the chosen few, the United Nations - by 14% next year.

Not enough money for our own - but 14% extra for the front of the plane very important people.

It's rather cruel to Australians, particularly those who created the wealth or fought to defend our ability to keep it.

UN funding rises as efficiency drive hits public service

AUSTRALIA'S financial contribution to the UN will rise by at least 14 per cent next year as the government pushes ahead with a drive to slash departmental expenses and promote public service efficiencies.

The increase coincides with Australia taking up its temporary seat on the UN Security Council next month and is part of an attempt to recast funding obligations in the light of the global financial crisis that has crippled Europe.

The recalibration will mean emerging economic powerhouses such as China, Brazil and India will greatly increase their contributions while European nations such as Britain, Germany and France pay less than before.

Australia contributed $44 million in the 2012 calendar year - amounting to a little under 2 per cent of the budget. Next year its contribution is expected to be well above $50m, with the revised UN budget set at $5.4 billion.

Contributions to the UN are determined by the General Assembly's fifth committee according to a complex formula that takes into account gross national income. New payment scales are negotiated every three years.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade yesterday confirmed that Australia's contribution rate had increased by 7 per cent under the new arrangement, with its share of GNI rising from 1.933 per cent to 2.074 per cent. The increase in dollar terms does not correlate directly with the contribution rate.

The increase comes as federal departments have been placed under acute financial pressure as the government ramps up the efficiency dividend to reap savings. In the current financial year, an additional impost of 2.5 per cent applies, taking the efficiency dividend to a record 4 per cent.

The government has also embarked on a program of spending cuts to try to meet its goal of a surplus next year - which is now unlikely after Wayne Swan abandoned his guarantee - as well as funding commitments such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the Gonski school education reforms.

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