One of Australia's leading foreign policy experts has suggested using the $60 billion in unspent JobKeeper funding to help Pacific nations survive the coronavirus pandemic.
Michael Shoebridge from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute also wants a proposed "travel bubble" with New Zealand extended to our regional neighbours.
The federal government has redirected $280 million in foreign aid to help the Pacific, Timor-Leste and Indonesia respond to the coronavirus.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is concerned the virus could overwhelm health systems, leave millions of people unemployed, and lead to political instability.
"The scale of the COVID-19 crisis will dwarf the resources we have available," the department said in a report published on Friday.
Mr Shoebridge welcomed the funding but criticised the government for drawing from the existing aid budget.
"That to me is just going to get to be a bigger and bigger problem," Mr Shoebridge told AAP.
"I think there's a logic gap between what the government's doing domestically and what it's doing with the South Pacific and Southeast Asia."
He said Australia's allies would question why it was spending so much on recovery domestically but not on its neighbours, especially after the government revealed it underestimated the JobKeeper take-up by $60 billion.
But he said it was even more important to include Pacific nations in a travel pact with New Zealand.
"Tourism is such a huge part of those countries' economies," Mr Shoebridge said.
Save the Children Australia's deputy chief executive Mat Tinkler said the focus on the Indo-Pacific region was "spot on" but the bigger picture should not be ignored.
"Our neighbours need our support to withstand the health and economic shock the global pandemic has unleashed," he said.
"But the Australian aid budget is not a magic pudding, so any redirection will inevitably hit others hard.
"This is an emergency on an unprecedented scale which cannot possibly be mitigated by scraping together from within the existing bucket of funding."
The department believes a strong emphasis will need to be placed on women and girls, who are likely to face increased violence during any upheaval.
"COVID-19 threatens to undermine the Indo-Pacific's astounding achievements in economic growth, poverty reduction and political stability over the past two decades," its report says.
Although the Pacific and Timor-Leste will be front and centre of the aid response, the report also pointed to Southeast Asia.
"The region's capacity to weather COVID-19 will be integral to Australia's own economic recovery," it said.
Australian Associated Press