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Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Page: 11594


Mr JOHNSON (9:53 AM) —Today in the world there is a desperate need for leadership, whether it is at the community level, the state level or the national level. I think people throughout the world are desperate for quality leadership, for a quality of character in their leadership, and I want to draw the House’s attention to an event in Hong Kong next week, which I was very generously invited to but of course with the parliament sitting I am not able to attend. I refer to the Clinton Global Initiative.

I want to compliment the former President of the United States on this initiative. I think it is a tremendous initiative. It is about bringing together decision makers, both past and present, and people who through their networks and work, whether they are in business or the not-for-profit sector, are able to do things to improve the lives of people less fortunate than themselves. I will just quote President Clinton:

We each have an unprecedented opportunity to take action and save lives. Working together, we can accomplish even more.

President Clinton is of course a former President of the United States from the Democratic Party. I am not sure whether he will go down as one of the great Presidents of his country but, in a bipartisan fashion, I pay tribute to anyone from any party, in any endeavour or from any aspect of life who tries to do things that will improve the lives of their fellow human beings. Certainly all of us in this parliament and the overwhelming number of our fellow Australians live in a country of immense opportunity and immense potential. We must in all ways, in every aspect of our work and in every day of our lives remember that there are hundreds of millions of people around the world who have fewer opportunities, fewer options and fewer chances than we do ourselves. For those of us who are members of the executive of government, who have some capacity to make a difference, we should. We must use all our energies, talents and networks to make life better for others.

I also want to draw the House’s attention to how business plays a role in addressing issues of poverty and deprivation in our world. I will quote from one of the significant global figures in business: Peter Bakker, the CEO of TNT. When he addressed this issue, he said:

Business has a real role to play in fighting poverty. We are an underutilized instrument.

I say, ‘Hear, hear,’ to that. (Time expired)