Kevin Rudd

The Government remains resolute

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Kevin Rudd, Australian politician
Kevin Rudd: influential in shaping global events

What did Kevin Rudd, Australia’s Foreign Minister, have to say when he gave a strongly worded speech last week on extreme poverty? Thanks to my mate Luke who forwarded me this link.

I was really pleased to hear the framework through which the Australian Government is operating. Here are a few of the points worth mentioning:

  • Bi-partisan support.
  • A recognition that “the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) hang in the balance”
  • Focus on increasing aid effectiveness.

Policy is the vehicle through which a government can exercise influence on issues like this. It can be crude and slow in delivery at times. Kevin Rudd indicated that the government is looking for ideas in how to always improve and have greater impact- that is a good offer which should be responded to in good faith when the performance of the government appears frustratingly less than what could be achieved.

This is the reason for the 10 City Bridge Run. Governments need the input of people to make a difference. Howls of protest serve a limited purpose, just as does long and unremarkable petitions which lobby for change. The 10 City Bridge Run seeks to create a ‘pictorial petition’ comprising of 24,000 photographs of ‘human bridges’ to be sent to all leaders of the G20 members states. The petition will applaud the resolute spirit of each government to achieve the MDG, and recognise the decisions that will be made at the G20 Summit in Seoul, and importantly appeal for change that ensures together we influence a reduction on child mortality before 2015.

The petition started with an idea. It is emergent and still needs work. It is at this point in time still in design. You can help. Please contribute to the crowdsourcing questions that will be articulated later tonight. Only by acting together will this initiative be able to achieve impact.

Kevin Rudd closed with a noteworthy reminder, leaving aside statistics and policy:

Let us not forget that we are talking about people who are part of our common humanity.

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Did the Government Let Us Down?

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Kevin Rudd (right) and Julia Gillard (left) at...
Please explain

Tom Bland from Oaktree made this comment last week:

Last week, Kevin Rudd committed $210 million of Australian money towards the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. The global community coughed up a total of $11.7 billion.

Let’s not make excuses, or pretend that this is enough money – the reality is that it’s simply not good enough. The Global Fund needed $13 billion to even keep doing what it’s already doing. It needed $17 billion if it was to meet future needs, and $20 billion if it was to adequately help achieve the MDGs and end mother-child transmission of HIV. Australia’s fair share was $500 million – and we didn’t even get half that.

I wonder how Australia made that calculation- the $210 dollars? I wonder whether Australia actually have a ‘fair share’ to contribute?

When is the point reached where ‘enough money’ is given? Who decides? And if the Australian Government did fall short, who did they let down- us, the United Nations, those who have yet to be infected with HIV/AIDS. TB, Malaria or Measles?

Why didn’t the Global Fund just cut out the inevitable disappointment from government and lean on a few ‘rich’ people, as Peter Singer suggests in his book The Life You Can Save?

And if we are all surprised at the government giving less than half of what their ‘fare share’ ought to have been, what the hell was going on in New York during the high-level conference about the Millennium Development Goals which was addressed by Kevin Rudd and monitored in New York by Oaktree?

Who was to blame for the other $6.3 billion deficit where the Global Fund fell short? Fair shake of the sauce bottle!

I think there is more to this than complaining over a ‘fair share’ of money being paid to the Global Fund. What was achieved at the United Nations Conference in September? Is this report from Tom Bland the first signs of blame toward government and the United Nations as we approach 2015?

How should we now respond? Giving money to make up the shortfall?