I’m honoured to be the new Greens spokesperson for International Development. As someone born in the Global South taking on this role, I am looking forward to bringing a new perspective.
Global poverty is the result of colonialism, structural inequalities, and grossly unfair neoliberal trade and debt systems. We must look at overseas aid as a global justice issue.
I am inspired by the words of Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano, “Poverty is not written in the stars; underdevelopment is not one of God's mysterious designs”.
I said in my first speech to parliament that we must reject simplistic solutions and tackle the root causes.
We cannot talk about millions of displaced people and those seeking asylum in Australia without acknowledging the role we've played in the global imperial war machine.
We cannot tackle climate change without addressing rampant overconsumption in rich countries like ours and the abuse of natural resources. The climate emergency, in particular, looms large in the landscape of global inequality. As the crisis worsens it will result in a climate apartheid, where the rich can afford to adapt to the destruction of our world and the poor are left to bear the brunt of a total climate meltdown. Australia has a responsibility to contribute to the international response this demands. We must compensate and work with affected communities wherever they are.
We cannot address global inequality without addressing the excesses of capitalism and neoliberalism. We cannot lift people out of poverty without addressing the extractive relationship that rich countries and corporations still have with the global South, and without asking why corporations have free rein to rake in ever-growing profits at the expense of people and the planet.
Australia must look beyond its borders, not as a nation hungry for resources and cheap goods, not as a nation suspicious or fearful of others and not as an ally of a war machine but as a friend of people who are fighting oppression, marginalisation and injustices wherever they may be. We look beyond our borders as a proponent of democracy and human rights everywhere, not just where it is politically expedient. We look to international peace, to justice in Palestine, to welcoming refugees.
We have a responsibility to contribute to ending global poverty. I look forward to working with the community and aid organisations to reverse the Liberal-National’s budget cuts and return the focus of aid from Australia’s national interest back to poverty reduction and justice.