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Wednesday, 16 March 2016
Page: 2157

Senator McEWEN (South AustraliaOpposition Whip in the Senate) (16:52): At the request of Senator Singh, I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

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

(ii) 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,

(iii) as India and Nigeria have recently been removed from the list of polio endemic countries, polio remains endemic in just one Commonwealth country - Pakistan - where progress has been significant, with 80 per cent fewer cases being recorded in 2015 compared to 2014,

(iv) in the words of the new Commonwealth Secretary General Designate, The Rt Hon 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',

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

(vi) investment in polio eradication will yield the ultimate return for future generations of children who will be free of this devastating disease while global health will 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,

(vii) 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 living up to the theme of Commonwealth Day 2016 of 'An Inclusive Commonwealth', and

(viii) 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; and

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

Question agreed to.