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Asking Julie Bishop to take a bite out of poverty

On a hot summer day in Perth last week, a contingent of Oxfam supporters from Julie Bishop’s electorate and myself visited her at her office in Subiaco to talk about the GROW campaign.

By Paddy Cullen – Acting National Campaigns Coordinator

With the mercury scraping close to 40, we downed a few glasses of ice water while waiting at her office and were pleased to see several pictures on the notice board of Julie Bishop at Oxfam’s Straight Talk as well as a prominent ‘Close The Gap’ sticker.

When the new Minister for Foreign Affairs arrived, she first talked about her experience in the Philippines and thanked Oxfam for our work in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

We then spoke about the GROW campaign and  presented her with a card representing the 9 500 people who got involved in almost 200 Eat Local Feed Global events on World Food Day in October last year.

Almost 4000 people at this time wrote to the Minister asking her to increase aid to 0.5 per cent of GNI by 2016 and double the amount of aid earmarked for food security.

In reaction to this, she said that “Australia is committed to a sustainable foreign aid program with a focus on sustainable economic growth and economic empowerment of women. Our food security program is aligned with this focus”.

2014 is the International Year of Family Farming: the 500 million farms in developing countries that feed 2 billion people. It is also where 80 per cent of the worlds hungry try to survive.  The UN says that growth in agriculture, particularly small-scale agriculture, benefits the poorest at least twice as much as growth in other sectors of the economy.

Investing in these farms and particularly in women is where the greatest inroads to poverty and hunger can be made, and we are hoping that the minister will be as good as her word and that this will be a big part of the new government agenda.