Meeting Tony Abbott

Campaigning for change article written on the 13 Dec 2011

Photo: Oxfam

On Tuesday 6th December, as part of an internship at Oxfam, I had the opportunity to hear Tony Abbott at a community forum. My supervisor, WA Campaigns Coordinator Paddy Cullen was keen to find out Tony Abbotts view on how he would fund the Green Climate Fund to help developing countries deal with climate change, which is an essential part of getting a global deal on climate change.

Mr Abbot spoke disparagingly about Australia’s Price on Pollution legislation, refugees “…the boat people invading our country…” and also took a conservative “traditional view” on same sex marriage because of the “impact on the children”. These views were applauded loudly by many of the Liberal faithful who had gathered for the occasion.

Paddy was unable to get his question in on The Global Climate Fund during the meeting but did manage to meet with Mr Abbot briefly afterwards, share a few thoughts on climate change and theimpact on the poor, as well as give Mr Abbot a copy of Oxfam’s Getting Smart on Climate Change booklet. Mr Abbot appeared interested and said he likes to shop at the Oxfam shop.

After the meeting I did a bit of research on refugees. The ‘boat people’ that Mr Abbott referred to are actually asylum seekers. They are not invading our shores but in fact fled their homes from persecution, torture, rape and in many cases death. Asylum seekers arriving by boats make up just over 3% of migrants granted visas under all permanent migration programs. It is also interesting to note that the majority of asylum seekers arriving by boat are granted refugee status as they are deemed under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees to be a refugee.

On the matter of same-sex marriage I found out a plethora of peer reviewed, academic journals reporting the contrary to Mr Abbott. The American Psychological Association reported in 2005 that children brought up in same sex households are just as healthy and equally developed as children brought up in traditional homes.

On climate change I found out that if the world does not act in the next 5 years with strong cuts in carbon 40% by 2020 emissions many developing countries will suffer increased droughts, storms and droughts, affecting millions of people. Neither the Australian Labor Party or the Liberal/National coalition are taking this issue seriously enough.

While I congratulate Mr Abbot on his fair trade purchases I feel that more research by our politicians a more informed public would lead to better outcomes for everyone concerned.

Lori Black is an intern with Oxfam Australia.