Foreign Minister Bob Carr has savaged an opposition proposal to slash $800 million from the foreign aid budget.
A leaked policy document shows the opposition proposed to use the money to build a tropical health medical centre in far north Queensland.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has since distanced himself from the document, calling it a draft discussion paper.
"The idea of a specific redirection of foreign aid in that way is not going to be our policy," he told reporters on Thursday.
But that didn't stop Senator Carr taking aim at the idea.
"This shows their recklessness on foreign policy," he told reporters in Canberra.
"An outright cut on this scale would hurt our relations with Pacific states including Papua New Guinea, it would damage our relations with Indonesia, it would hurt Australia's standing in the world."
Senator Carr said the coalition's proposal was "radically different" from the government's decisions last year to delay a planned increase to the aid budget and use almost $400 million from it to support asylum seekers who reach Australia.
The Australian Council for International Development welcomed Mr Abbott's clarification on coalition policy.
"Foreign aid amounts to a very small part of Australia's budget - we give just a fraction of one per cent of our national wealth," executive director Marc Purcell said in a statement.
"It is not a treasure trove able to be raided for domestic purposes."
Oxfam Australia said the coalition paper illustrated an "alarming" new trend of aid diversion.