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23    Foreign Affairs—Global Polio Eradication Initiative

Senator Back amended general business notice of motion no. 1087 by leave and, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved—That the Senate—

    (a)   recognises that:

                  (i)   14 March 2016 marks Commonwealth Day for 2.2 billion people living in 53 countries,

                 (ii)   in the words of the new Commonwealth Secretary-General Designate, The Right Honourable Baroness Patricia Scotland, the eradication of polio is ‘an exemplary example of what the Commonwealth can do when it collaborates and works together with focus to bring something about’,

                (iii)   in 1987, when Commonwealth leaders met in Vancouver, more than 350 000 cases of polio paralysed and killed children in 125 countries annually, and in the following year the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was formed, bringing together Rotary International, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) united in a common cause: to eradicate polio once and for all,

                (iv)   today polio remains endemic in just one Commonwealth country - Pakistan - following the removal of both India and Nigeria from the list of polio endemic countries in recent years, and even in Pakistan progress has been significant, with 80 per cent fewer cases being recorded in 2015 compared to 2014,

                 (v)   a funding gap of $1.5 billion for implementing the GPEI’s current strategic plan threatens to derail this progress,

                (vi)   at the most recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Malta in November 2015, Commonwealth leaders, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, agreed to accelerate action and renew financial support to eradicate polio once and for all,

               (vii)   the Australian Government has committed up to $72 million to polio eradication and routine immunisation over 4 years, of which up to $36 million is committed to the GPEI from 2015 to 2018,

              (viii)   Australia has contributed a total of US$67.35 million to the GPEI from 1985 to 2014, ranking the third highest Commonwealth donor, behind the United Kingdom and Canada,

                (ix)   strong routine immunisation systems and national health systems are critical to prevent polio resurgence and other communicable disease outbreaks,

                 (x)   in addition, Australia’s core contributions of $12.4 million to the WHO for 2015-16, $21 million to UNICEF, and $250 million pledged to GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance for 2016-2020, also support routine immunisation, including polio,

                (xi)   living up to the 2016 Commonwealth Day theme ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’, the full eradication of polio could be the first milestone success of the new Sustainable Development Goals, providing the blueprint for reaching children with life-saving interventions in some of the most remote, vulnerable and socially-excluded communities, and

               (xii)   investment in polio eradication will yield the ultimate return - future generations of children will be free of this devastating disease while the health of the world will long benefit from the program’s knowledge and experience, as was demonstrated in 2014 when the use of polio infrastructure enabled Nigeria to stop the spread of Ebola; and

    (b)   calls on the Australian Government to follow through on this renewed commitment and pledge to the GPEI.

Question put and passed.




At 5 pm—