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Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Page: 9277

Ms McKEW (Parliamentary Secretary for Early Childhood Education and Childcare) (9:57 AM) —At a time when, the world over, individuals are worried about their personal economic security, it is really heartening to see that so many Australians and others are united in the goal of making poverty history to ensure that the world’s poorest citizens are not ignored as international leaders strive to resolve the current market crisis. On Monday this week a committed cavalcade of Australians assembled on the front lawns of parliament. They were the Voices for Justice, supporters of the movement known as Micah Challenge, a global movement of Christians seeking to deepen our engagement with the world’s poor and marginalised. This is, indeed, a great challenge for the new century and it is embraced by many committed people in my electorate of Bennelong. In particular I would like to mention Eloise Beech, Dan Allport and Pastor Justin Campbell from Morling College in North Ryde. They embrace the ideal of the Millennium Development Goals to halve global poverty by 2015. I know that they all appreciated the time that many members of this House gave them to listen to their concerns. Their advocacy and their passion need to be embraced by everyone in this House.

Micah Challenge provides suggestions for us as individuals and indeed as a nation on how we can make a difference. We have to make a difference for the one billion people who survive on less than $2 a day, for the 800 million who go to bed each night malnourished, for the 30,000 children who die each day from preventable diseases and for the 115 million children who do not have access to schooling. Micah Challenge encourages us to open our eyes and hearts to the difficult and challenging images and to believe that we as individuals and as a nation can make a difference.

Our government came to office with the commitment to raise overseas development assistance to 0.5 per cent of gross national income by 2015, and we are honouring that commitment. In this year’s budget, we made our first step, raising development assistance by $505 million to a total of $3.7 billion over the next year to 2009. There has already been meaningful progress in some countries, with a reduction in maternal and infant mortality, with vaccination programs for measles and malaria, with reafforestation and farming assistance and, importantly, with providing safe water. We do have a capacity to feed the 20 per cent of the world’s population who exist in extreme poverty. We can as individuals take small steps to create change—change in the minds of government representatives, importantly, and change in the minds of world citizens—to ultimately make poverty history.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms AE Burke)—Order! In accordance with standing order 193 the time for constituency statements has concluded.