Appearing today before the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security supplementary public consultation on the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill, Oxfam Australia’s Public Policy and Advocacy Manager Rachel Ball said:
“Advocating to the Government and public is an important part of Oxfam’s work in empowering communities and tackling poverty, and without significant amendments we remain deeply concerned that this work could be jeopardised by the Bill.
“We do our work tackling poverty and advancing human rights issues in partnership with overseas government departments, public authorities and advocacy groups, because that is the most effective way to bring about positive change. We work with them, not for them, so it’s inappropriate for this sort of work to be caught by a complex, expensive and burdensome regulatory regime that’s intended to ensure the transparency of foreign agents.
“Oxfam draws on international partnerships when talking about global issues like poverty alleviation and climate change, and this advocacy advances the debate and policy discussions in Australia. Any legislation that limits this would be to the detriment of debate in Australia.
“For example, in the Solomon Islands and PNG, Oxfam works with government departments to tackle violence against women, while in Bangladesh we work with the national government to develop and scale clean water solutions.
“Far from being a threat to the Australian public, it is in fact critical to a functioning democracy that non-government organisations are able to promote good practice and human rights through their advocacy.”
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