Gillard must champion development reforms at the G20

Media Releases article written on the 11 Nov 2010

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has a historic opportunity to help reform the global economy to ensure that the one in six people who live in extreme poverty benefit from economic recovery, Oxfam Australia said today ahead of the G20 summit in Seoul.

Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said Australia should use its unique position as the first developed country in recovery from the global financial crisis to champion policies that could help poorer countries still suffering from its aftershocks.

“As Australia proudly showcases its economic recovery on the world stage, an additional 64 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty because of the ongoing impact of the global economic crisis,” Mr Hewett said.

“South Korea has made development a central part of the G20 agenda, giving leaders attending the summit the opportunity to make decisions that could lift millions of poor people out of poverty.

“Prime Minister Gillard needs to encourage other leaders to examine how the financial sector can repair the damage done to poor people in developing countries by the Global Financial Crisis, while also looking at ways those countries can be more involved in the economic decisions that affect them,” Mr Hewett said.

Oxfam is calling on the G20 to forge a new ‘Seoul Development Consensus’, to replace the Washington Consensus created at the G7 summit in 1989, with measures to make the global economy work in the interests of poor countries, including:

• A Financial Transactions Tax: The G20 should introduce a tax applied internationally of 0.05 per cent on all financial transactions which would have the potential to raise $US400 billion a year. Oxfam proposes that 50 per cent of this revenue should be used on domestic public services, such as supporting hospitals or education, 25 per cent on overseas development and 25 per cent to assist poor people adapt to the devastating impacts of climate change.

• Giving poor countries a seat at the table: While the expansion of the G8 to the G20 acknowledged the importance of emerging economies, it needs to be further expanded to include more countries affected by its economic decisions. Leaders should look to including an Asian regional body as well as greater representation from the African Union and Latin America.

• Addressing global hunger: One billion people around the world suffer from hunger, and the G20 should address three global economic problems that keep people hungry: a lack of investment in small-scale agriculture, volatility in the price of basic food commodities and the “land-grabbing” of farming plots in developing countries.

Mr Hewett said that while economic growth is vital to help people in developing countries, it is not enough on its own to lift vulnerable people, most of whom are women, out of poverty.

“From 1981 – 2001, when the Washington Consensus was at its height, the world economy grew by $19 trillion but people living in extreme poverty received only 1.5 percent of that,”

“This year’s G20 is a crucial opportunity to begin to reform the global economy to ensure that all countries benefit from economic recovery,” Mr Hewett said.

For more information or to interview Andrew Hewett, please contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Sunita Bose on 0407 555 960.