Making Poverty History

Around a month ago, on a Friday afternoon, a group of local church representatives met with the Federal Member for the electorate of Perth, Stephen Smith. Stephen is a member of the Australian Labor Party and Shadow Minister for Education and Training. (Click the photo for a better look.)

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Stephen a number of times in the past when he has given support to 98.5 Sonshine FM‘s annual Radiothon. I’ve always found him to be a very genuine person who is willing to listen to the concerns of those he serves.

With a Federal Election likely to be called at any moment and tipped to be set for late November, we felt it was a good time to raise concerns about Australia’s commitment to the Millennium Development Goals which were agreed to by UN member countries in 2000 as targets for the year 2015.

In short, the goals are:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

2. Achieve universal primary education

3. Promote gender equality and empower women

4. Reduce child mortality

5. Improve maternal health

6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases

7. Ensure environmental sustainability

8. Develop a global partnership for development

During our meeting Stephen Smith promised to raise our concerns in the parliament and on Thursday, the 20th of September, just 13 days after our meeting, he made the following speech.

Labor believes that the Millennium Development Goals should constitute the new framework for global international development assistance.

The key objectives of the Australian aid program should be to work with developing countries to realise the Millennium Development Goals. The goals allow developing and developed countries to move beyond the sometimes flawed relationship that has characterised overseas aid in the past and provide a clear vision and framework for halving extreme poverty by 2015 and ending it by 2025.

Labor accepts the internationally agreed aid volume target of 0.7 per cent of GNP for overseas development assistance, and recently the Leader of the Opposition formally committed a future Rudd Labor government to ensuring that overseas development aid is 0.5 per cent of GNI by 2015.

I was very pleased recently to welcome to my electorate office some local members of the Make Poverty History campaign in my electorate in Perth. That meeting occurred on a Friday afternoon a couple of weeks ago.

I was very pleased to welcome to the office to discuss these matters Ian Kirk from the Bassendean Church of Christ, Daniel Smith from the Morley Salvation Army, Rodney Olsen from Beechboro Baptist Church, Steve McKinnon from Lockridge Baptist Church, Brian Thorpe from Maylands/Mt Lawley Uniting Church, Ross Fraser from Bassendean Presbyterian Church, Geoff Bice from Lockridge Anglican Church, John Holmes from the Charis Fellowship in Bassendean, Jim McKinnon from Bedford Baptist and Lockridge Baptist Church, Cecilie Holmes from the Charis Fellowship in Bassendean, Colin Craggs from the Inglewood Church of Christ, Pastor Pam Devenish from Highway Church in Beechboro, Pastor Anne Ison from Highway Church in Beechboro, Captain Niall Gibson from the Salvation Army Catherine Street Church and Amy Fitzpatrick from Lockridge Anglican Church.

We had a very fruitful conversation. It was so pleasing to see so many people in the local community in my electorate committed to wanting to see Australia act as a good international citizen, committed from a personal point of view to always trying to ensure that someone who is not as well off as you are gets a helping hand up, and as far as Australia being a good international citizen is concerned, ensuring that Australia is committed to overseas development aid, is committed to the Millennium Development Goals and committed in an international sense to making poverty history for so many developing nations around the globe at the moment.

Our hope now is that if the Australian Labor Party is elected to power this year that they will do everything within their power to act towards making poverty history.

Posted by Rodney Olsen

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About the author

Rodney Olsen

Rodney is a husband, father, cyclist, blogger and podcaster from Perth Western Australia.

He previously worked in radio for about 25 years but these days he spends his time at Compassion Australia, working towards releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.

The views he expresses here are his own.

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