The announcement of a dedicated Minister for International Development and the Pacific is a welcome move that must be backed up with increased investment in the portfolio, Oxfam Australia has said.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the new role, which will work with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, yesterday, along with the new full Ministry.
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said a dedicated Minister focused on international development and the Pacific region was welcome and she expected the Ministry would continue to be represented in Cabinet by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
“A dedicated Ministry focusing on international development and our important neighbours in the Pacific is a positive move,” Dr Szoke said.
“I congratulate Steve Ciobo on his appointment.”
The appointment comes at the beginning of a crucial week for international development, with the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development to be agreed by world leaders at the United Nations from this Saturday.
The Goals aim to end extreme poverty by 2030 and ensure action on key global challenges like rising inequality and climate change.
“The challenge before the new Minister for International Development and The Pacific will be to work with the Foreign Minister to ensure Australia is doing our part to reach these new goals,” Dr Szoke said.
“That will mean aligning our international development policy with the goals, and ensuring we are giving a fair share in Australian aid to our neighbours. On the back of the largest cuts to aid in Australian history, the new Minister will need to ensure scarce resources are restored and channelled towards the most pressing areas of need.
“This will require a renewed focus on tackling economic inequality as well as ensuring sustainable growth. It will require more money and resources to assist communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change they are already experiencing, and to develop along low carbon pathways. Increased money for reducing the risk of disasters is also needed.
“Reaching the Global goals will need strong action on climate change from the climate talks in Paris at the end of the year.
“Oxfam looks forward to working with Minister Ciobo on International Development and The Pacific and hearing more about the focus and direction of this new ministerial position.”
Dr Szoke also welcomed the appointment of the Western Australia MP Ken Wyatt to Assistant Minister for Health, the first Aboriginal person to be appointed to a Federal Ministerial position.
“We hope that Mr Wyatt continues the good work that his predecessor Senator Fiona Nash has enabled through her engagement with the National Health Leadership Forum, and the soon to be released Implementation plan for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Health Plan,” Dr Szoke said.
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