The President of the Uniting Church, Rev Gregor Henderson, today added his voice to the call for a bipartisan consensus on Australia’s overseas aid policies.
“The plight of people overseas suffering from abject poverty has surely to be seen as one of the biggest moral issues of our time” Mr Henderson said. “Turning a blind eye to the world’s poor when Australia’s wealth continues to grow is morally repugnant”.
The Uniting Church has long called for Australian governments to raise the level of overseas aid to the United Nations target figure of 0.7% of gross national income, double the current Australian rate.
“Sadly, neither the Coalition nor Labor have adopted this target” said Mr Henderson, “While Labor is proposing to be marginally more generous, now is the time when both parties should agree at least to match most European countries who are committed to 0.5% or more by 2010.”
Rev Henderson noted that Australia has a long way to go to meet the millennium development goals set by the United Nations for 2015. “Both parties pay lip-service to the millennium development goals” he said, “but neither of them have policies in place to move us systematically towards these goals which are vital for millions of people in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.”
Mr Henderson challenged Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd to raise Australia’s overseas aid to 0.7% of national income over the next three years. “Such bipartisan support for the suffering millions of the world would show great moral leadership” he said. “Copycat policies like that would be more than welcome”.
Photo : Uniting Church President Rev Gregor Henderson