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Thursday, 22 October 2015
Page: 12272


Ms BURKE (Chisholm) (10:00): Throughout my electorate there are thousands of passionate activists concerned about the effects global poverty has on millions of people across the world. I am pleased to regularly meet with people from the Oaktree foundation; Vision Generation, World Vision Australia's youth movement; Oxfam; CBM Australia; Leprosy Mission Australia; the TEAR action group; and a range of local churches and community groups united by their commitment to alleviate poverty. They regularly raise their concerns about Australian commitment to foreign aid. They have been devastated by the successive cuts to Australia's foreign aid budget since 2013. The millennium goal of reaching a foreign aid commitment of 0.5 per cent of GNI seems further and further out of reach.

The Eastern Suburbs TEAR Action Group took the time to bake the most delicious and beautiful cake, carefully cut and labelled into a pie chart of the federal budget expenditure. Unless you were on an extreme diet, if someone were to hand you the slice of foreign aid at a birthday party, it would be nothing short of a massive insult. Indeed, it was so small that it was almost impossible to actually wedge it out of the cake.

While our foreign aid budget remains a significant issue with all of these groups who are meeting with me, they have a second growing concern: the impact of climate change on the world's poorest and most vulnerable people. In 2013, more than six million children died before their fifth birthday. Forty-five per cent of these deaths were caused by malnutrition. Right now, 165 million children around the world are suffering from malnutrition. While these people desperately need our aid and assistance, they also need our urgent action on climate change.

Climate change is the greatest challenge in the fight against hunger and poverty. While climate action affects us all, the effects on poverty-stricken nations and people are devastating. In the Pacific, climate change is a threat to the very survival of some nations as a result of the increased destruction and impacts of cyclones, rising sea levels and shifting weather patterns. The likelihood of more frequent El Nino events means that longer, more severe droughts have the potential to devastate food production. Extreme weather causes extreme hunger.

Australia has a responsibility to act on climate change for ourselves and for people who have no voice. We need to join the cause for climate justice. We must act to reduce emissions by at least 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025 and at least 65 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030; provide greater assistance for international climate finance, mobilising $100 billion by 2020, as many nations have; support a stronger and fairer 2020 global climate agreement in Paris, which includes guarantees of adequate funding for adaption in poorer countries; and support a package for those at risk of displacement from climate change.

Many of those at risk are in our own region, surrounding us, in the Pacific islands. It is not something in the future; it is something happening now. What we do has an effect on the world, and I urge the government to act, not only in our interest on climate change but in the interest of the world's poorest people, who need our help.