Watching the budget on indigenous health, climate change and aid

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 12 May 2008

Monday May 12 2008
Watching the budget on indigenous health, climate change and aid
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has committed to closing the 17-year life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, prioritising climate change as our ‘greatest moral and economic challenge’, and harnessing aid to tackle the entrenched causes of underdevelopment in the Pacific region.
Oxfam Australia will be watching tomorrow night’s delivery of the Federal Budget to see if the government delivers on:
On March 20 the Federal Government signed the indigenous Health Equality Summit’s Statement of Intent, demonstrating the government’s commitment to working in partnership with the indigenous community to close the gap in Indigenous life expectancy within a generation. “It’s not sentiment that makes history, it’s actions,” the PM has said.
To deliver this commitment, Budget night should include:
• An additional $150m for culturally appropriate primary health care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as part of a $500m increase over five years;
• The delivery of the Government’s pre-election commitments, including $186.4m over four years to improve the health of Indigenous children, $10.3m for rheumatic fever and heart disease control and $90m over five years to create an additional 300 Indigenous ranger positions;
• $10m seed funding to establish a National Network of Centres of Teaching Excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health;
• Demonstrable commitment to addressing the social determinants of Indigenous health, including a significant injection of additional funds into Indigenous housing.
In Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s 2007 Budget reply speech he told the nation that it needed to “deal with, rather than avoid, the great challenge of climate change…before the cost of inaction becomes far too great”. In a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in April, he recognised the need for rapidly deployed funds and scaling up of finance mechanisms to assist developing countries to build low carbon and climate resilient economies.
On Budget night the Rudd Government needs to deliver:
• Significant scaling up of financing for adaptation. In this year’s budget, at least $300m in addition to Australia’s aid budget, with a commitment to scale up to $1.75b (our fair share of global adaptation costs for developing countries) by 2015, with a significant portion of this funding going to UNFCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) funds;
• Spending to be prioritised in the areas of capacity building, disaster preparedness, livelihoods programming, and migration (focusing on developing countries in the Pacific region).
“It is in our own interests to tackle poverty in our region, as part of a wider strategy to deal with the impact of terrorism, climate change, pandemics and refugees on Australia” (from Prime Minister Rudd’s keynote speech to the Lowy Institute, July 5, 2007).
On Budget night Oxfam Australia wants to see:
• An aid budget of $3.7b, which would put it on a trajectory to reach 0.7 per cent of national income by 2015.
• The delivery of the Government’s pre-election commitments, including a $22.5 eye health initiative for the Pacific and South-East Asian regions and a $75 million debt swap with Indonesia, with half of this money being used to tackle tuberculosis in Indonesia;
• Increased investment in demand-led governance initiatives, basic and reproductive health, an additional $50 million for water and sanitation initiatives as a first step before Labor’s pre-election commitment to increase water and sanitation expenditure by $100 million commences in 2009-10, funding to assist developing countries monitor their progress against the Millennium Development Goals, and increased funding to ensure effective multilateral organisations.
To interview Oxfam Australia’s Director of Public Policy and Outreach James Ensor, please contact Louise Perry, Oxfam Australia Media and External Relations Manager, on 0414 456 015, or Laurelle Keough, Oxfam Australia Media Liaison Coordinator – Advocacy & Campaigns, on 0409 960 100