Campaigning in Sherwood Forest (well… Fremantle)

Campaigning for change article written on the 25 Nov 2010

Photo: OxfamAUS

When I started my work placement with Oxfam two months ago I wasn’t expecting to dress up as a Robin Hood, or to have my photo taken with politicians, or to meet the former Prime Minister… or to learn so much!

At Oxfam I’ve been working with Paddy Cullen (WA Campaign Coordinator) on the Robin Hood Tax Campaign. Oxfam is pushing for this proposed financial transaction tax of 0.05% to be paid by investment banks for each transaction of bonds, shares, derivatives and currency. The amount of money raised from the tax could total hundreds of millions of dollars per year, to be used to combat climate change and poverty. Oxfam is pushing for the Australian government to support the tax at the next G20 summit.

As part of this campaign we had a promo with the Fremantle Federal MP, Melissa Parke, and the Fremantle Mayor, Brad Pettitt. The politicians joined Oxfam supporters in a mock battle (bankers versus Robin Hoods) to raise awareness about the tax. Photos were taken and we featured in the Fremantle Herald and the Fremantle Gazette the weekend after!

At the promo we also handed Melissa Parke a new publication by Oxfam – a booklet discussing the economic benefits of acting on climate change sooner rather than later.

A few days later, Kevin Rudd came to Fremantle to speak on the effectiveness of Australia’s aid. It was perfect timing for our campaign! Melissa Parke invited us to the meeting to ask a question on the Robin Hood tax and donated half the funds from the night to Oxfam. Kevin Rudd talked about the MDG’s, on where our aid goes, and on security in the region. We were really surprised that he didn’t know about the Robin Hood Tax. When asked, he responded that he needed to be briefed on the tax and that he would get back to us via Melissa Parke. We were very lucky to raise the issue with the foreign minister and finally get the Robin Hood tax on his agenda.

The following Sunday was the Fremantle Street Parade. We had a float in it, and dressed up once again as Robin Hoods and bankers. We were a bit disappointed by the turn-out, but had fun none-the-less, making some people laugh with our mock battles! We also handed out 500 pledge post-cards to be sent to Prime Minister Julia Gillard calling for her to support the tax.

Exhausted by our parading efforts, I might hang up my sword for a bit- however the campaign for the Robin Hood Tax continues! Next year the G20 is in France, where we hope to see most countries in favour of the tax. Already the French government and European Union are pushing for its implementation.

I’ve had a ball working with Oxfam, and have learnt so much about the Robin Hood Tax. I feel that as someone who is so lucky enough to live in such a prosperous country, supporting the Robin Hood Tax is just a tiny thing I can (and should) do. You should all see what it’s all about too!

Lydia Tomlins is a volunteer intern in the Western Australia Oxfam office

What you can do: