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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3364


Mr MURPHY (Reid) (22:26): Just last month, volunteers from grassroots global poverty organisation RESULTS visited me in my office here in Parliament House in the lead-up to World Tuberculosis Day. Members of RESULTS spoke with many MPs and senators to highlight the devastating link between tuberculosis and HIV. TB is the leading cause of death for people with HIV, yet less than seven per cent of people who are infected with HIV are even tested for TB. With the advance of antiretroviral treatment, people infected with HIV are able to live full and productive lives, contributing to their family and the community. But they are being cut down by TB, which is a preventable and curable ancient disease that we can eradicate.

I thank the volunteers Peter Van Zoeren, a resident in my electorate, Taniele Gofers and David Bailey for bringing these issues to my attention and for the work they do at RESULTS to highlight crucial issues of aid and development to parliamentarians and the public.

Tuberculosis is often thought of as a disease from the past and as having been long eradicated from our world. This misconception could not be further from the truth. The spread and mutation of TB remains a critical factor in the fight against disease and poverty around the world today. Australia's bipartisan commitment to reaching 0.5 per cent GNI for overseas development aid by 2015 is one of our most important achievements. We have an opportunity to demonstrate leadership with increased funding over the next three years, but, most importantly, to ensure that our aid budget is targeted, effective and directed towards those who need it most.

Distinguishing between effective use of our aid budget and ineffective spending is a priority for this government. One of the most effective organisations of recent history in the fight against tuberculosis, HIV and malaria is the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The global fund has, in a decade, managed to begin to halt and reverse the spread of these three killer diseases. Since its inception in 2001, the global fund has saved an estimated 7.7 million lives, which works out at about 100,000 lives every month.

The transparency of the organisation allows continuous public scrutiny so it can improve its operation and its disbursement of funds. I am pleased to say that the Gillard government committed $210 million in 2010 to the global fund for the period 2011 to 2013. This was a 55 per cent increase on previous commitments.

Going forward, however, the work of the global fund in fighting these diseases is in jeopardy. Crucially, due to the vast impact of the fund—having supported around half of all patients receiving HIV treatment as well as providing two-thirds of international funding to fight tuberculosis and malaria—threats to the funding base of the global fund are potentially devastating for the ongoing programs in developing countries. Last November, the global fund announced that it had no choice but to cancel its next round of grant-making until at least 2014. This was as a result of lower than expected donor contributions and a scaling back of pledges from around the world. This setback threatens the progress made in the fight against HIV, TB and malaria, and risks the lives of millions of the poorest people around the world.

Reduced funding will effectively halt any new program opportunities until 2014, dramatically slowing the provision of treatment for HIV, TB and malaria. Existing projects will also need to be scaled back, with many unable to provide treatment for new patients. Through in large part the work of the global fund, the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria has come a long way. It is imperative that we ensure progress is not halted or even reversed. Australia is in a position to show leadership in our support for the global fund and our commitment to its ongoing success.

I therefore support the call from RESULTS for Australia to play an active role in any proposed meeting of donors in the middle of the year to address this funding crisis. I also support the call from RESULTS to have Australia increase its current pledge from $210 million to $310 million to continue to fight these devastating diseases around the world.

Well done, Peter Van Zoeren, Taniele Gofers and David Bailey. They are all wonderful humanitarians and I applaud their very inspiring work on behalf of RESULTS.

The SPEAKER: Order! It being after 10.30pm, the debate is interrupted.

House adjourned at 22:31



 

Monday, 19 March 2012

 

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ) took the chair at 10:30.