International aid agency Oxfam Australia has welcomed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s announcement of a new Minister for International Development.
Oxfam said the appointment of West Australian MP, The Hon Melissa Parke, into the role reflected the importance of Australia’s growing investment in overseas aid.
Oxfam Australian Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke congratulated Ms Parke on her appointment, saying that having a dedicated minister for Australia’s aid program was overdue.
“Oxfam has long called for a dedicated minister for aid and development, to oversee the growth in Australia’s aid program, and to ensure every dollar spent has the maximum impact on reducing poverty.
“As a former lawyer with the United Nations and a committed humanitarian, Ms Parke brings considerable knowledge of global development issues to this role.
“During her time as a backbencher, Ms Parke’s passion for international development has always been evident, and Oxfam has enjoyed an excellent working relationship with her for many years.
“We look forward to working cooperatively with Ms Parke as Minister for International Development to ensure Australia’s overseas aid and development program is helping people out of poverty.
“The first tasks for the new minister are to ensure the government re-establishes bipartisan agreement on growing the overseas aid budget to 0.5 per cent of national income by 2016, and to increase the government’s commitment to tackling global hunger.”
Dr Szoke also thanked Foreign Minister Bob Carr for his contribution on Australia’s aid and development program, and said the agency would continue to work with him on key issues.
“We welcome the decision to have a dedicated minister for aid and development, but so long as the role does not get a seat at the Cabinet table, it will fall to the Minister for Foreign Affairs to ensure a whole-of-government approach to Australia’s international development program.”
Australia’s $5.6 billion overseas aid program is growing as part of efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, as well as undergoing reforms arising from the 2011 review of aid effectiveness.
For interviews or more information contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0412 560 584 or firstname.lastname@example.org