Prime Minister Julia Gillard should take an early opportunity to show that her new Government will meet its commitments to the world’s poorest by attending an upcoming United Nations’ summit in New York, international aid agency Oxfam Australia said today.
Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Summit on September 20 was an important chance for Prime Minister Gillard to meet with other world leaders.
“The MDG Summit is vitally important if the world is to meet the goals to halve global poverty. Five years before we are due to achieve the MDGs we remain dangerously off-track – the UN summit will allow Australia’s new PM to show how her Government will step up efforts to meet the goals,” Mr Hewett said.
Oxfam believes the inclusion of independents in the new Government and the crucial role they will play in the Parliament provides Australia with the chance to take a fresh approach to two critical issues – our response to climate change, and treatment of asylum seekers.
“Australians have shown they are dissatisfied with the way these issues have previously been handled by our politicians,” Mr Hewett said.
“Now is the time for Australia to commit to treating asylum seekers humanely. We can do this by helping to establish a UNHCR sanctioned regional protection framework, as well as upholding Australia’s international obligations.
“It is also time for Australia to re-engage with global efforts to combat climate change and provide its fair share of climate finance to help developing countries adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. This funding should be in addition to the existing foreign aid budget,” Mr Hewett said.
Oxfam believes the new government should also demonstrate its commitment to the world’s poorest by:
• Developing a new strategic framework for Australia’s foreign aid program that focuses on improving effectiveness and promotes a whole of government approach.
• Appointing a separate Minister for International Development Cooperation.
• Providing a timetable to demonstrate how Australia will scale up to meet the UN target of providing 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) in aid.
Oxfam believes the Government should also work harder to close the gap on indigenous health by developing a comprehensive plan of action to achieve health equality by 2030.
“Australia needs an indigenous health plan that is targeted at areas where the need is greatest, addresses the existing inequalities in health services and allows indigenous people to have an equal say in how their health needs are met,” Mr Hewett said.
“Oxfam hopes the Government’s actions over the next three years contribute to a more equitable, just, and compassionate Australia that meets its responsibilities as a good global citizen.”
For more information or to interview Andrew Hewett contact Kate Thwaites on 0407 515 559, email firstname.lastname@example.org