Morrison Defends $323K Foodbank Funding Cut Just Weeks From Christmas
Scott Morrison has defended funding cuts of $323,000 to food charity Foodbank, saying it was the result of a "competitive process" that saw funding allocated to three different organisations.
"The overall level of services that are being provided for is exactly the same -- it hasn't changed," Morrison told Studio 10 on Monday morning.
"The services in relation to food support have been maintained at the same level, it's just being delivered to more agencies. It's not a closed shop. If other agencies can do this job as well or better, then why wouldn't we want to enlist them all in that task?"
He promised to confer with Federal Minister for Families and Social Services Paul Fletcher about the funding cuts to Foodbank, and see "if there's any need to review that decision".
Foodbank's chief executive Brianna Casey said she was "dumbfounded" by the decision, which saw funding drop from $750,000 to $427,000 just weeks before Christmas.
The charity feeds 710,000 Australians every month, making sure essential supplies like rice, bread and vegetables get to those most hungry.
"This funding program enables us to leverage an extremely modest investment from the government into more than $8 million of essential foods for distribution to 2600 charities around the country."
The program sees food manufacturers produce food using spare production capacity, while suppliers donate or subsidise ingredients, packaging and delivery.
In February Foodbank asked the government for $10.5 million over three years, which it said would return $316 million to the Australian economy.
But the charity says this latest cut -- the third since 2014 -- may mean the end of the Key Staples program.
"The federal government funding is essential to glue these production arrangements together," Casey said.
Despite growing demand, Casey said government funding had gone down from $1.5 million a year three years ago, to $427,000 a year from January 2019.
On Thursday, Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher announced food charities Foodbank, SecondBite and OzHarvest will share in more than $4.5 million.
But the money will be spread over four-and-a-half years, starting in January.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has written to the coalition government asking for the cut to be reversed.
"I am genuinely surprised by this mean and foolish decision," Shorten said.
Foodbank provides 67 million meals a year to charities across the country, as well as more than 1750 schools.
It is Australia's largest food provider to schools for breakfast programs.
Lead photo: Facebook / Foodbank