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Monday, 30 November 2015
Page: 14196

Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle) (12:08): It is with great pleasure that I rise to speak on this motion today highlighting the vital work of the Global Fund and the continued attention and funding that is required to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. These three diseases still account for the deaths of nearly three million people around the world each year. While this number is staggeringly high, without the work of the Global Fund and their partners it would be much, much higher. The Global Fund's results report for 2015 details the impact their work is having in saving lives: 17 million lives have been saved because of their programs and they are on track to reach 22 million lives saved by the end of 2016. That is a staggering achievement and a tremendous victory for humanity. There has been a decline of one-third in the number of people dying from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria since 2002 in countries where the Global Fund invest, 8.1 million people are on antiretroviral treatment for HIV, 13.2 million people have received tuberculosis treatment and 548 million mosquito nets have been distributed through programs for malaria.

The Global Fund invests in 21 high-impact countries across Africa and in Asia, where the prevalence of these three diseases is particularly high. For Australians, this includes popular tourist destinations in our region: Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. The prevalence of TB, HIV-AIDS and malaria in our region affects Australia's national interests both directly, through the immediate health risks to our citizens, and indirectly, through the loss of economic opportunities. Accordingly, it is vital that Australia contributes to the fight to eradicate these ongoing epidemics.

Since 2004, Australia has contributed $515 million to the Global Fund, including a pledge of $200 million to the Global Fund's 2014-16 allocation period. This contribution has delivered significant value for money, with the Global Fund giving US$15 dollars for every US dollar Australia has committed to the eligible countries in Asia and the Pacific—a total of around US$2.9 billion.

This investment will continue to have a significant impact for those three countries, which are already benefiting greatly from the Global Fund programs. The standout statistics are: in Indonesia, we have seen a 64 per cent reduction in deaths from tuberculosis; in Thailand, a 73 per cent reduction of instances of HIV and a 67 per cent reduction in deaths from HIV as well as the 96 per cent reduction in deaths from malaria; and, in Vietnam, an 88 per cent reduction in the incidences of malaria and an 89 per cent reduction in deaths from malaria.

In June, this year, I was fortunate to witness firsthand the real difference the Global Fund's work is having on the ground as I joined a delegation to Vietnam to the observe their programs in action. A standout aspect of the trip was to visit the national lung hospital in Hanoi, where I found a strong connection to my electorate of Newcastle. University of Newcastle graduate Professor Tran Thanh Duong is the director of Vietnam's malaria control project. Professor Duong's work in the Global Fund has led to an astounding reduction in deaths related to malaria in Vietnam, from 5,000 deaths per year to just six.

As noted in the terms of the motion, combating these diseases is in line with the sustainable development goals that have a target to end the epidemic of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria by 2030. The Global Fund on its own cannot achieve this goal. A concerted multicountry commitment with increased investment by national governments, aid agencies and multilateral agencies such as the Global Fund is required.

As I have mentioned, Australia is a significant contributor to the cause over the past decade but, in the face of some savage cuts into our overseas aid budget of late, many of us have concerns around the investment into programs for these diseases. Australia's current aid program is at its weakest point in our history with the current government's $11.3 billion cuts to overseas aid, meaning that, by 2016, Australia will spend just 22c in every $1,000 of our national income on overseas aid. That is our lowest spend ever and it is something that we cannot afford to continue. I take this opportunity to call on the Turnbull government to stop the cuts in overseas aid, support the Global Fund in their next replenishment period from 2017 and 2019, and look at increasing and investing in this important work. We cannot afford not to.

Debate adjourned.