Much-needed policies on achieving greater equality must not be put at risk as the Coalition grapples with its slim hold on power and narrow mandate, international aid agency Oxfam Australia said today.
Oxfam Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said Australia’s incoming Government must acknowledge that there is a genuine appetite for change and for leadership that will deliver a fair go for all.
“It’s essential the Coalition listens to calls for action on multinational tax-dodging, Indigenous rights and climate change and demonstrates a stronger commitment to tackling the widening gap between rich and poor,” Dr Szoke said.
“The policies and changes that are urgently needed to tackle poverty and inequality cannot be bargained away as the Government faces the difficulty of its slim grasp on power and has to balance different demands.”
Dr Szoke said the past decade had seen a dramatic widening in the gap between rich and poor.
“There is no room for complacency in a world where the richest 62 people owned as much wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion people,” she said.
“This is an opportunity for Australia to raise its ambition as a nation to being a champion of equality and a champion of fairness at home and abroad.”
Oxfam will be looking to the incoming Federal Government for clear commitments on issues including:
- Tax avoidance: Oxfam Australia’s report, The Hidden Billions, found the use of tax havens by Australian-based multinationals was costing nearly $9 billion in lost tax revenue here and overseas – money that could be spent on schools, hospitals and infrastructure. An Oxfam commissioned poll found 90 per cent of Australians want the government to stop tax-dodging by corporations. Measures in the last Federal Budget were a start, but the government must legislate to make companies publish details of their tax affairs on a country-by-country basis.
- Aid: The Coalition must act to repair the aid budget, which has been reduced to historically low levels, and commit to rebuilding the program to at least $5.5 billion.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples: We need a new approach to ensuring we tackle inequality. Inadequate progress has been made on closing the gap on health and bringing down soaring rates of imprisonment. There has been no response to calls to overhaul the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, and cuts of $600 million top Indigenous affairs need to be reversed.
- Climate: Polls have shown voter concern about climate change is at its highest for many years. But despite the dramatic escalation in climate impacts this year, the Coalition has not committed to cut Australia’s carbon pollution beyond its woefully inadequate target of 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030, nor increased support to the region with adapting to the impacts of climate change. Australia needs to achieve zero emissions well before mid-century, which will require a rapid transition to 100 per cent renewable energy and no new coal mines.
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