Micah Australia’s lobbying efforts are underway, as Voices for Justice 2018 shifts into this phase of the conference.
Day three kicked off with an event on the lawns of Parliament House attended by politicians, NGO representatives, and Micah delegates.
The event was a bipartisan affair, with Labor, Liberal, and Green party representatives speaking.
Nationals MP for Mallee, Andrew Broad, told those assembled that it was great to see “real people” lobbying in parliament.
Lobbyists, he said, would often advocate for narrower interests than what Micah were there to represent. However, the Micah delegates were engaged in a democratic activity that parliament house was designed to accommodate.
“It’s your parliament,” said Mr Broad.
Mr Broad said that he had often spoken up for Australian aid. This, he said, was often a matter of explaining what aid money financed. When people say “we should cut it, I ask, ‘which part?’”
Greens MP Rachel Siewart said that it was encouraging to see Micah sharing the accounts of what Australian aid meant for people in countries that received it.
“We are part of a globe, and we have global responsibilities,” Senator Siewart said.
Labor MP Patrick Gorman said that he was impressed that Micah Australia had already managed to organise “more than 80 meetings.”
“We are a very, very lucky, very, very, wealthy country,” Mr Gorman said.
Micah Australia CEO Rev. Tim Costello said that the Christian agencies assembled at Micah represented $620 million in private donations to the causes that they were in Canberra to lobby for.
“We advocate for justice for all…A vision for a world where everyone can flourish,” Rev. Costello said.
This year, advocates will ask politicians to commit to more and better Australian aid, as well as better funding for the UNHCR. The event heard that the UNHCR is currently facing a shortfall of $700 million dealing with the Rohingya crisis alone.
Voices for Justice runs in Canberra from 1 to 4 December.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor