Oxfam urges Prime Minister to stay true to her commitment to development at G20

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases, News article written on the 03 Nov 2011

Oxfam is urging Prime Minister Julia Gillard to stay true to her words at CHOGM and take action to support the world’s poorest citizens at the G20 in Cannes today (3&4 Nov).

Oxfam Australia Director of Policy James Ensor called on the Prime Minister to support proposals for a global Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) – a tax of just 0.05 per cent on financial market transactions that could raise billions of dollars to fight poverty and climate change, and a global levy on international shipping – both due to be discussed at the G20.

“At CHOGM, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the needs of the developing world must be central to the G20 agenda, not something peripheral or remote,” Mr Ensor said.

“The global financial crisis has left a $63 billion hole in poor country budgets, and climate change is leaving millions of people at risk of hunger and homelessness. A FTT – popularly known as a Robin Hood Tax – could raise up to $390 billion a year to help poor people around the world.

“Australia can play a constructive role in ensuring the proposal is discussed and progressed, supporting countries like France, Germany and South Africa in bringing this new revenue source to life.”

Mr Ensor said support for a FTT was building across Europe among politicians from across the political spectrum, as well as the Gates Foundation, the IMF and 1000 economists throughout the world, including Ex-Deputy Governor of the Australian Reserve Bank, Steven Grenville.

He said CHOGM leaders had also called on the G20 to take all necessary steps to deal with current economic instability. One of the benefits of a FTT is that it aims to reduce instability in financial markets by acting as a disincentive for banks engaging in high-frequency trading and speculation on global markets.

“Australia should also support a carbon price on international shipping – a source of rapidly rising emissions – which is gaining in popularity and could raise billions of dollars annually to fight climate change,” Mr Ensor said.

“These sorts of innovative sources of finance are needed now more than ever, as the effects of climate change worsen and the Green Climate Fund –which Australia and other world leaders have committed to in order to help people in poor countries adapt to the impacts of climate change – stands empty.

Oxfam also calls on G20 leaders to tackle food price volatility. The G20 first looked at commodity price fluctuations in 2009, but two years later, very little has been achieved. Forty-four million people fell into poverty in the second half of 2010 due to rising food prices and Oxfam says prices could double again over the next 20 years.

French President Sarkozy has put the food price crisis high on the agenda at the G20, calling for strong market regulation, improved transparency and more work on inventories and insurance in order to manage the effects of price instability. Oxfam also wants the G20 to pave the way for inclusive and sustainable growth and finish the fight against tax havens.

“Oxfam believes that the G20 must now make good on the bold promises it made in Seoul last year to promote ‘shared and green growth’, Mr Ensor said.

For interviews please contact Laurelle Keough on 0409 960 100 or laurellek@oxfam.org.au