Five things … about Australia’s Foreign Policy

Feb 28, 2017

Our government has been asking Australians to have their say about our foreign affairs policy. Here’s a few ideas!

 

  1. Inequality – it’s on the rise, here at home and around the world. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the wealth of the super-rich has increased by an average of 11% each year. The OECD noted in 2013 that income inequality in the first three years of the financial crisis increased more than during the previous twelve years combined. We can do something about it. Let’s try tackling corporate tax avoidance for starters, including tax dodging by multinationals using tax havens.
  1. Address the climate emergency. With our Pacific neighbours already losing lives and livelihoods to rising sea levels, and extreme weather events and heat impacts manifold across Asia and the Middle East, Australian domestic policy around fossil fuels is a foreign policy issue. Australia must phase out its dependence on coal-based energy systems and invest in a ‘just transition’ for workers and communities in coal-dependent communities. Government subsidies to fossil fuel sectors is estimated at $7.7Billion annually, which if re-directed to public services and infrastructure would also help save the planet.
  1. Shut down the global asbestos trade – asbestos kills, we all know that. But a handful of countries that export raw asbestos are holding the rest of us to ransom in blocking a world-wide ban on asbestos. That’s Russia, Brazil, Kazakstan and China. Australia would be on a winner here at home if it stepped up and led the global campaign this year at a UN meeting in May – the first step to a global ban.
  1. Settle it with Timor Leste – for too long Australia has put its own interests before one of the poorest and newest nations in the world. The average annual income for a Timorese worker is a mere $5,446. International law is clear that the maritime boundary between Australia and Timor-Leste should lie halfway and that the resources that lie on the Timor side rightfully belong to Timor. Australia must sort a fair and equitable treaty in the Timor Sea – a key way to reduce Timor-Leste’s reliance on international aid.
  1. Support self-determination and human rights in key conflict zones – there are many around the world but to name a few, West Papua, Myanmar and Palestine are flash points for ongoing abuses of human rights and unresolved conflicts. We know international coordinated pressure works – yet in these key conflict zones our Government is failing to maximize all that is possible to end conflict and violence.

For the full Union Aid Abroad submission to the Australian Government’s Foreign Policy White Paper inquiry, click here.

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