Leading Australians call for more population aid (OCT)

18 October 1999

Media Releases 1999

Leading figures in the literary, environment, indigenous affairs, medical and foreign aid communities are among 934 signatories to a petition submitted today to the House of Representatives

The petition, circulated for last week’s Day of Six Billion (October 12, designated by the UN to symbolise when the world’s population passed six billion), calls on the House to raise Australia’s contribution to population-related foreign aid.

The signatories include:

  • Judith Wright-McKinney, poet, author and environmentalist;
  • Janet Hunt, Executive Director of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid;
  • Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue, former ATSIC Chair;
  • Professor Ian Lowe, Chair of the Australia State of the Environment report;
  • Professor Roger Short, Professor of Perinatal Medicine, Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne.

The petition, lodged today in the House of Representatives by Dr Brendan Nelson, requests “that the House urgently increase Australia’s annual foreign aid spending related directly to population stabilisation and reproductive health from $37 million to $220 million, and that the House increase Australia’s overall spending on overseas development aid from the present 0.25 per cent of GDP to the UN recommended proportion of 0.7 per cent of GDP”.

The petition further stated that Australia’s current spending of $37 million was only one quarter of the amount – calculated to be $148 million – agreed under the terms of the UN Programme of Action which Australia had signed at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994, and to which it had recommitted at a follow-up special session of the UN General Assembly in New York in July this year.

“We believe that many Australians are ashamed that, when so much is at stake for such a small expenditure, advanced nations including Australia have consistently failed to give adequate support to activities agreed under the UN’s Programme of Action, and we request Parliament to urgently remedy Australia’s inadequate support for population stabilisation,” the petition stated.

“The doubling of world population in only 40 years has had tragic consequences for an estimated 1.3 billion people who live in absolute poverty, 840 million of them malnourished. “The Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan, has told a special session of the UN General Assembly that nothing could be more important than helping the world’s people to control their numbers, and that for the Earth to continue to sustain people in future, the population must be stabilised.”

Further information: Tom Gosling, Ph: +61 2 6231 6428 [ Tom.Gosling@isr.gov.au ]


Media Releases 1999
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