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Speech: Official Development Assistance Multilateral Replenishment Obligations (Special Appropriation) Bill 2019

I rise to speak to the Official Development Assistance Multilateral Replenishment Obligations (Special Appropriation) Bill 2019. The bill provides funds to existing and future official development assistance multilateral replenishment obligations. The Greens support this bill, but the government needs to do much more. We are living through a global pandemic with the entire world impacted. We are set to face, as a global community, social and economic consequences at a massive scale which will be felt ever more deeply in the global south.

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Liberals' Narrow-Minded Cuts A Blow To Already Dismal Aid Budget

Australian Greens International Development spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi has criticised the Government’s international aid cuts announced today.

Senator Faruqi has said the repurposing of Australia’s already shrinking aid budget is a signal the Coalition government is moving further away from the global community and retreating from its responsibilities. While Australian government spending on the COVID-19 response in the Pacific is very welcome, this should involve new funding, not a repurposing of the existing budget.

Senator Faruqi said:

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Australian Greens condemn efforts to ratchet up repression in Hong Kong

The Australian Greens condemn the Chinese Government’s plans to enact sweeping new national security laws in Hong Kong, with Leader of the Australian Greens Adam Bandt today offering solidarity to protesters who have resisted months of recriminations.

“As Hong Kong activists have said, this is a dangerous prospect for Hong Kong and if implemented could be a knockout blow for Hong Kong’s one country, two systems arrangement.  It is an attempt to silence Hong Kong and its brave and vocal pro-democracy activists," Mr Bandt said.

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Greens Back Global Call For Debt Forgiveness

The Australian Greens have joined an international delegation signing onto a letter calling for extensive debt forgiveness from international financial institutions, including the IMF and World Bank, for International Development Association countries. The letter was initiated by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and signatories include Jeremy Corbyn, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Yanis Varoufakis.

Senator Mehreen Faruqi and Adam Bandt MP are the sole Australian signatories to this unprecedented letter.

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WHO should be strengthened, not weakened

The Australian Greens have condemned US President Donald Trump’s announcement this week that the United States will withdraw critical funding from the World Health Organisation (WHO), and cautions the Australian government from signalling any similar action.

As the international body responsible for coordinating the world’s response to pandemics like the current COVID-19 crisis, it is critical that governments maintain their financial commitments to the organisation. 

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Motion: Review of Foreign Aid Program

I move the motion as amended:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that the Federal Government has announced a review of Australia's foreign aid program;

(b) notes with concern that:

   (i) Australia's foreign aid budget has been cut by 27% since its peak in 2012-13, and is well below the average for countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),

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Foreign Aid Cuts to South Asia, Pakistan, a Backwards Step

Australian Greens International Aid and Development spokesperson, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, has responded to revelations that the Morrison government will cease all bilateral aid to Pakistan as funds for development assistance are diverted to the Pacific. Nepal will also have its budget almost halved. 

Senator Faruqi said:

“Raiding the aid budget of one country so Australia can further its national interest in the Pacific is a shameless pursuit of self interest by Australia. 

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Motion: Asbestos in Foreign Aid Projects

I, and also on behalf of Senator Ayres, move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

   (i) all forms of asbestos are carcinogenic to humans,

   (ii) according to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 125 million people around the world continue to be exposed to asbestos at work, including in Australia's neighbours in the Asia-Pacific, and the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop the use of all types of asbestos,

   (iii) Australia is a founding member of the Asian Development Bank,

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