Thursday, October 2, 2014

Increase Foreign Aid and Alleviate Global Poverty

Today I met with representatives from the Oaktree Foundation’s, End Poverty Road Trip, delegation which visited Parliament House to speak with Parliamentarians about the need to lift Australia’s foreign aid investments and help address global poverty.

It was a pleasure to meet with constituents from North Fitzroy and Brunswick, Max Pfeifer and Jayden Holmes, who formed part of the 500 strong Oaktree Foundation delegation to Canberra.

I had a constructive discussion with them on the need for the Australian Government, through the upcoming G20 Summit in Brisbane this coming November, to address international corporation tax avoidance, improving transparency on company ownership, countries working together to improve profit and loss reporting of multinationals, the automatic exchange of information for developing countries and most importantly the need for Australia to increase its foreign aid.  I am a strong supporter of these measures.

I was concerned to read in today’s 2/10/14 The Australian Newspaper ‘Foreign Aid Cuts to help fund on terror’, of reports that the Liberal government is considering further foreign aid cuts to those which were contained in the May Budget, to help pay for the military operation in Iraq. The report stated that Australia’s military operation and deployment in Iraq will cost about $500 million a year while the increase in funding for spy agencies and the Australian Federal Police costs over $630 million over four years. The Liberal Party unveiled a

$4.5 billion foreign aid cut in the days before the last election and then announced a $7.6 billion saving in the May budget. The changes have frozen the increase in aid outlays for the next few years. The report claims Cabinet Ministers are canvassing an extension to the freeze in the annual aid increase, perhaps for another two years.

Cuts in Australia’s foreign aid budget hurt our diplomatic relations, undo much goodwill we have built over time through aid projects, and compound global poverty, health and education issues. 

I have seen firsthand how Australian Aid projects in various international communities are very warmly received, appreciated and are achieving great results. These projects build trust towards Australia while also helping lift living standards for some of the world’s poorest people.

The fact is rather than prioritise precious Australian taxpayer dollars on extravagant military equipment and conflicts, Australian money would be better spent at helping alleviate the root cause of much conflict- poverty. When young people are born and raised in an environment where there is no education, no healthcare, no reliable sources of food, water and safe access to basic services that many of us take for granted on a daily bases; and where fear and uncertainty is common place in daily life; this is a recipe for violence and conflict.

The Australian government ought to have budget priorities which ensure we are building goodwill in our neighbourhood, improving life expectancy and outcomes for the most vulnerable in the world.
I commend Max, Jayden and the 500 Oaktree Foundation delegates for their passion, enthusiasm and advocacy, and hope the Australian Government will raise and address global corporate tax avoidance through the G20 Conference in Brisbane in November.

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