Hi, I’m Kevin 0.7 and I’m here to help
This week Kevin Rudd is in New York City, this time not as Kevin 747, or even Kevin ‘07 but rather as Kevin 0.7.
In the year 2000 world leaders got together to discuss how we could eradicate poverty. The result was the heralded Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) a set of aspirational targets designed to alleviate poverty by 2015. This included goals such as halving hunger, progress on infant and maternal health and universal primary education.
Each developed nation was asked to give 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) toward achieving these goals, Australia has only committed to 0.5per cent.
Kevin Rudd needs to make the alleviation of poverty one of his top priorities as Foreign Minister and the MDG summit in New York this week is a prime opportunity for Australia to show leadership on this issue.
Recent research conducted by ActionAid shows the large majority of Australians have never heard of the MDG’s - despite the fact they inform Australia’s $4.4 billion aid program. When prompted in a recent Nielsen poll, only 6% of Australians said they had heard of the MDG’s, even less could articulate what they were.
When asked, however, if they would support a coordinated approach to tackling poverty with concrete goals along the lines of the MDGs, 70% said they would support such a program.
In fact, Australian’s were so keen on the idea of a globally co-ordinated approach on eradicating poverty that 60% said they would support an increase in our foreign aid budget to make it happen. This is the response to a plan that has existed and informed Australian government policy for a decade.
The government department dedicated to our national aid program, AusAID, is set to be the biggest Federal Government department by 2015 and Australia’s MDG commitments will be responsible for a large chunk of spending, and rightly so. However, in the ten years since they were agreed upon, the government has failed to explain to the Australian public what the Millennium targets are or how they inform our overseas aid program.
Australians are a generous nation and can see the self-interest involved in aid delivery too. However, they are not engaged in asking our leaders to commit to our fair share of aid.
Our new Foreign Minister needs to be Kevin 0.7. We need more and better aid to hope to achieve the meaningful, lasting change that the MDG’s call for.
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