21 July 2005


At their recent meeting in Edinburgh the leaders of the world’s richest nations (G8) have made an unprecedented pledge to address global poverty by cancelling debt and increasing aid levels.

The challenge is now for Australia to follow that lead said Jack de Groot, Chair of the Make Poverty History campaign and National Director of Caritas Australia. His comments are reported in the latest edition of Ozspirit

"World leaders will gather again to address actions they can take at the UN Poverty Summit in September 2005. That presents Australia with an important opportunity to join with its OECD partners in announcing a more substantive aid commitment than currently exists.

Australia has been the OECD's leader over the last six years in economic growth rates and budget surpluses. We have enjoyed 14 years of continuous growth and 9 years of Commonwealth surpluses. We have the resources to make the necessary commitments."

He went on to say "At the UN Summit in 8 weeks time, Australia has the chance to demonstrate that it will rise to this global challenge. This would mean joining our OECD partners in announcing a timetable to reach 0.5 per cent of Gross National Income, up from 0.28 per cent now – as recommended by the OECD".

Polmin is urging all concerned Australians to write to the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Representatives asking that the Prime Minister and government
- join other world leaders at the UN poverty summit in New York in September
- make a firm, timetabled commitment to achieving the MDGs
- increase our aid to at least 0.5% of our GNI (Gross National Income)
- continue to pressure G8 nations to remove agricultural subsidies for fairer international rules on trade and finance

The next Edmund Rice Justice Network Seminar for schools will focus on the "Make Poverty History" campaign and will take place at Parade College, Bundoora on 19th Aug.


As expected the recently released Palmer Report into the Cornelia Rau case was scathing in its condemnation of the operation of Australia’s policy in regard to the detention of asylum seekers.

Nevertheless while welcoming many of the findings and recommendations of the report, a range of groups including Polmin and the Refugee Council of Australia have called for a broader, full judicial enquiry.

Concerns were expressed from the outset at the narrow terms of reference for the enquiry and the limited powers of the investigator. The Government’s response to the findings and recommendations have done little to allay the suspicion that it is more concerned with making cosmetic changes to the system and absolving those who have directed the policy of any responsibility for the lack of fairness and respect for human dignity condemned in the Palmer report. Instead a fundamentally immoral and flawed policy remains intact.

A spokesman for the Brotherhood of St Laurence stated that it was time to end "Australia’s disgraced and abusive detention system for which no-one is being held accountable"

Speaking on behalf of Australia’s Catholic Bishops, Bishop Joe Grech urged the Government to cease ignoring "the viable and effective alternatives to detention that various people have been proposing for a number of years. These alternatives are well-developed, and can help solve the serious problems of the present mandatory detention system." Such an alternative is The Better Way


The Australian Government and the Trade Union movement are currently engaged in media campaigns about proposed changes to industrial relations laws in Australia.

In its most recent Good Business newsletter, the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education, now based in Croydon NSW, explores some of the ethical considerations underlying the proposed reforms.


The recent Justice in the Pub night explored the topic of climate change and was introduced by Paul Fogarty. Those present sat around and learnt/talked about:
* global warming,
* global dimming,
* greenhouse gases
* the Kyoto Protocol - and why out government didn't sign it
* what we as individuals can do to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and where we can get more information about the issue.

Justice in the Pub is an informal opportunity for people of all ages to come together in a relaxed environment to learn about and discuss a current social or environmental justice issue and is held on the first Tuesday of every month, at Bridie O'Reilly's in Brunswick (Corner of Sydney Rd and Brunswick Rd, Brunswick).

The next Justice in the Pub will be on Tues 2nd August. 8pm - 9:30 (or come along at 7:30 for a pre-justice drink)
Trish Hevern (an Eddie Rice volunteer) will introduce the topic of
"The G8 Summit: What happened? Were the Millenium Development Goals met?"
and provide information and resources for further discussion.

The aims of JIP are
* to come together, meeting new people
* to learn more about a topic that we may be interested in, but probably wouldn't bother to learn about by ourselves
* to have a chat
* To look at how we can make a difference (if you'd like to)

Everyone is welcome - all age groups, all levels of knowledge on the topics, from anywhere.

JIP is an initiative of Paul Fogarty who expressed the desire to explore further with others some of the issues raised in these bulletins.

6 July 2005


Thanks to the publicity given to the Make Poverty History campaign through the Live 8 concerts, awareness about global poverty and what is needed to overcome it has never been greater, which has the potential to make life significantly better for the world's poor.

What is needed to be done to eliminate poverty is not in dispute. In September 2000, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, world leaders agreed to a number of specific and measurable development goals - now called the Millenium Development Goals - a set of development targets agreed by the international community, which centre on halving poverty and improving the welfare of the world's poorest by 2015. International financial organizations such as the IMF and World Bank have pledged to work towards the implementation of those goals.

It is recognized that action is required on four broad fronts if the issue of poverty is to be addressed.
- a one-off cancellation of the unpayable debt currently borne by the worlds poorest nations,
- an increase in the level of aid from developed nations to 0.7% of GNI (Gross National Income),
- the introduction of fair trade rules and
- improved standards of government in the poor nations themselves.

All of the areas require action.

The injustice of the world's current financial system is simply illustrated by the example of Nigeria which borrowed $5 billion, has paid $16 billion to date and still owes $32 billion (see Jubilee Australia website). Nigeria's debt, along with that of many other countries, will not be cancelled in the proposals likely to be approved following the current G8 meeting. The recent announcement re debt relief therefore represents a step forward but does not solve the debt crisis.

The pledges from a number of countries to increase their level of aid is similarly a positive sign but again pressure will need to be maintained to ensure promises are kept and that nations continue to lift the amount of aid to that required to implement the MDG's.

There is less optimism about the prospect of progress in making trade fair. The commercial interests of powerful trading nations, influential lobby groups and large corporations work to prevent the difficult choices governments need to make in order to ensure the trade system work for the environment and the common good. More information on this issue can be found at the website of the UK based Trade Justice Movement

Finally there is a need to maintain current efforts to improve governance and eliminate corruption if aid is to be effective. Click here for several articles on this issue.

Supporters of the "Make Poverty History" campaign are encouraged to again wear white wrist bands in September and December to coincides with the UN Conference on the Milleniuum Development Goals and Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization respectively.


The National Council of Churches has recently joined with the Australian Conservation Foundation to call for action from individuals, churches and governments to tackle dangerous climate change.

"Care for the environment is a critical issue in our time. While we don’t understand everything, we do know that human activity is doing great, and maybe irreparable, damage to our home, the earth. There are undeniable links between environmental degradation and poverty, an injustice we are called to overcome, from governments to individuals," said Rev John Henderson, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in Australia.

"Climate change does more than threaten our environment – it threatens our health, our way of life and our economy," said ACF Executive Director Don Henry. "Global temperatures are increasing, placing untold pressure on fragile ecosystems around the world and putting communities at risk. But with the help of individuals in our community, of businesses and with political support, we can prevent dangerous climate change."

A joint brochure Changing Climate, Changing Creation has been produced and distributed through churches. The brochure encourages Australian Christians to:

• write to or visit their federal MP and ask what they are doing to address the threat of climate change
• find out more about reducing energy and water usage and waste at home
• take action on climate change within churches and small groups.

The brochure is also available through the websites mentioned above.

At the international level the issue has also come to the fore and forms a major part of the agenda at the current G8 meeting in Edinburgh. Acknowledging that evidence for global warming was continuing to mount, and reacting to increasing concern around the globe in relation to climate change, some world leaders are pushing for an agreement for urgent, strong action to address the issue. The main opposition to any such agreement comes from the US where the Bush Administration continues to reject the notion that climate change is due in large part to human activity.


Christian church leaders have requested a meeting with Prime Minister John Howard to express concerns about the Federal Government's workplace relations changes.

The National Council of Churches (NCCA), which includes leaders of the Catholic, Anglican, and Uniting churches, as well as 12 other national church groupings, say they are concerned about the impact on workers and want to meet the Prime Minister

"We are uneasy about the bottom line in all this," said the Revd John Henderson, General Secretary of the NCCA. "If this is about Australia remaining competitive as a nation, as Mr Howard has said, then it should not be achieved at the expense of Australian workers and their families. The value of each worker is not as a commodity, but as a person, a human being, loved by God. Our community has values that are more important than economics."

The call follows a similar statement issued by the Australian Catholic Bishops through the Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations

"A fair system of workplace relations provides for needs and circumstances of both the employer and employees so that the right decision is made on any matter and not one made out of economic expediency or industrial self-interest" said John Ryan, Executive officer of ACCER


This week (3rd-10th July) is National Aboriginal Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) week.

The aim of the week is to promote the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and increase the awareness of this heritage to all people on a regional, National and International level. For a full list of events and activities planned visit the above website.

Justice In the Pub
The next "Justice in the Pub" night in Melbourne will be held at Bridie O'Reilly's cnr Sydney and Brunswick Rds in Brunswick. on Tues 12th July 8.00-9.30pm. A room has been booked. Unfortunately it has not been possible to arrange for a guest speaker as originally planned so the format will just provide an opportunity for informal discussion about particular justice issues. An invitation is extended to anyone interested to just come along and join or initiate a discussion on a topic of concern to you.

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