Prominent Australians call on PM to keep aid promise

Prominent Australians call on PM to keep aid promise

The Australian Council for International Development, the peak body for aid charities, has released an open letter to the Prime Minister — signed by more than 100 prominent Australians — calling on her to ensure next week’s budget does not break our promise on aid.

Signatories to the letter include 2012 Australian of the Year Geoffrey Rush, actors Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness, entertainers The Wiggles, Jimmy Barnes, Missy Higgins, Jamie Durie and Clare Bowditch, former Prime Minister the Right Hon. Malcolm Fraser AC CH, ACTU President Ged Kearney and former Masterchef winner Julie Goodwin.

Prominent business leaders have thrown their support behind the letter, including 2011 Australian of the Year Simon McKeon, Harold Mitchell AC, CEO of Yahoo7 Rohan Lund, Managing Director and CEO of Macquarie Bank Greg Ward, Executive Director of Telstra Rebekah O’Flaherty, Managing Director of KPI Consulting John Stewart and Group Executive for Qantas Lesley Grant.

The nation’s church leaders are also on board, with leaders from across denominations concerned about the effects of Australia backing away from our promise to the world’s poorest people. Uniting Church signatories include the Rev. Alistair Macrae
President of the national Assembly, and the Rev. Dr Brian Brown, Moderator of the Synod of New South Wales and the ACT.

“Most of the people living in poverty worldwide live in our own neighbourhood of Asia and the Pacific,” said Marc Purcell, Executive Director of ACFID. “So, as Australians, we know how important it is stay true to our longstanding commitments on aid,” he said.

The Rev. Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision Australia, said “The Prime Minister promised in the 2010 election to lift Australian aid to just 50 cents in every $100 of our national income, and this commitment cannot be broken for the sake of a surplus.

“800,000 extra lives could be saved by Australia keeping this commitment, which is part of the international push to halve global poverty by 2015.”

Andrew Hewett, Executive Director of Oxfam Australia, said, “It is unacceptable that more than 20,000 children still die every single day due mostly to diseases that are entirely preventable.”

He said, “It is in Australia’s national interest to ensure a prosperous, peaceful region and Australian aid can help achieve this.”

Australian of the Year and UNICEF Ambassador Geoffrey Rush said, “We have made enormous progress in the battle against poverty. Australia must not cede the commitment to aid that is held across the political spectrum. To do so will jeopardise the futures of millions of people who have been given the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty, in no small part, thanks to Australia’s foreign aid.”

CEO of Care Australia, Dr Julia Newton-Howes, said that Australia could afford to spend more on aid. “We are one of the wealthiest nations in the world,” she said, “but right now we rank only 13th on the league table of OECD nations on aid giving.”

Ian Wishart, CEO of Plan International Australia, said that children and families in our neighbourhood were counting on Australia keeping its promise.

“Many millions of men, women and children in some of our closest neighboring countries owe their lives, their ability to attend school and the safe birth of their children to Australian aid,” he said.

Australians are waiting for the Prime Minister to show the world that when we make a promise, we keep it.

The open letter and full list of signatories can be found here.

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