Bankers Battle Robin Hoods in Fremantle

Campaigning for change article written on the 12 Nov 2010

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt recently joined Oxfam supporters to pose in a mock battle between bankers and Robin Hoods in a visit to Federal MP Melissa Parke. The visit, on the eve of the G20 meeting of world leaders, is part of Oxfam Australia’s campaign for the Robin Hood Tax, a tiny tax on international banks, which could raise hundreds of billions of dollars annually to fund schools and healthcare programs domestically as well as funds to tackle climate change and poverty abroad.

Oxfam supporters Bishnu Shrestha from Nepal, and Dok Majok from Sudan also talked to Ms Parke about the effects of climate change on food and livelihoods in their regions of the world, and the urgent need for global action. Bishnu Shrestra said he had witnessed some unbelievable environmental disasters in his area including temperature rise and uncertain rain. “Each year there is the highest recorded temperature than ever before. There is more rain when we don’t need rain and no rain when we desperately need it. This has affected agricultural yields,” said Mr Shrestra

The Robin Hood Tax is a proposed financial transaction tax of 0.05%, levied on investment banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions. Not only could it raise $400 billion each year to tackle poverty and climate change, but economists say it will help stabilise the global economy by discouraging short term speculation in favour of long term investments. Oxfam proposes that 50 per cent of this revenue should be used on domestic public services, such as supporting hospitals or education, 25 per cent on overseas development and 25 per cent to assist poor people adapt to the devastating impacts of climate change.

The visit to Ms Parke’s office came on the eve of a G20 meeting in Seoul, South Korea (November 11-12) where the Robin Hood Tax will be discussed by world leaders, including Prime Minister Julia Gillard. British, German, French and Spanish governments have already shown an interest in the tax and Oxfam Australia is among a number of agencies calling on the Australian government to do likewise.

“I welcome this delegation and I’m happy to continue my strong advocacy of innovative approaches to ending poverty and tackling climate change. The Labor government has substantially increased Australia’s foreign aid commitment, and we have helped secure the G20 as the key global economic decision-maker. This is a good platform for more action, and the Robin Hood Tax is the kind of new approach we need to think about,” said Ms Parke.

Ms Parke was also presented with a new publication by Oxfam, outlining why it makes economic sense for Australia to act on climate change sooner rather than later. She also invited Oxfam to meet the Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd on Friday in Fremantle for and bring up the issue with him.

Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt, who has worked overseas in community development with Oxfam, said that it is vital the Australian government support the tax at the next G20 summit.

“Climate change and global poverty remain the biggest challenges of the 21st century and this small tax will make a big impact towards making our world fairer and more sustainable,” Mr Pettitt said.

The local Oxfam group plan to stage a mock battle between bankers and Robin Hoods at the Fremantle parade on Sunday. They will be encouraging the public to sign post cards to the Prime Minister, calling for her to support the tax.

I’d like to thank Melissa for her support and hope to raise this issue with Kevin Rudd at the community meeting in Fremantle this Friday

Kevin Rudd helped shape the G20 as the place where the world leaders sort out global economic challenges. The G20 now has the opportunity, with the Robin Hood tax, to generate the funds to tackle the world’s two greatest economic and moral challenges; climate change and poverty. We hope Australian government will join with other G20 nations to seize this golden opportunity to end this double tragedy of climate change and poverty and save millions of lives.

Melissa Parke is donating half the proceeds from The Community Forum with Kevin Rudd to Oxfam and half to UNICEF.

Photo by Annaliese Frank