As Australia approaches a federal election with scarcely a decent option on the ballot paper, one of the issues that I wish would receive more attention is international aid. Australia has committed to the Millennium Development Goals, which involve serious effort to eliminate extreme poverty by 2015. That deadline is rapidly approaching, and will be upon us by the end of this next term of Australian government.
I sent the following letter 4 days ago in response to a Liberal Party announcement, to make sure that politicians are aware that this issue matters.
Dear Foreign Minister Smith and Prime Minister Gillard,
This afternoon Julie Bishop committed to appointing a Minister for International Development in an elected coalition government.
I am well aware of our globally privileged position in Australia, and am anxious to use this position of wealth to help those in our international community who are less fortunate.
A Minister for International Development may improve the effectiveness of our aid, but I see that you have a wonderful opportunity to surpass the Liberal party’s proposal.
Will you commit to policies that achieve the Millennium Development Goals by their 2015 deadline?
I don’t claim this to be the best possible letter, but I was trying to ask for more than just a matching announcement about appointing a new minister. I was (and remain) concerned that such an appointment might end up being more about show and noise than about genuine commitment to action. Thus I asked more generally for policies that achieve the MDGs.
I have just received the following response from the Australian Labor Party.