Jubilee Sunday is celebrated annually at the end of the financial year. On Sunday 29th June this year Dr Andrew Buchanan spoke to us about Jubilee Australia during worship at Scots Church, as he has done each year for many years now. Below is the text of what he said:
Well, since the current financial year ends tomorrow, it means that today is Jubilee Sunday, and I am here once again to present our annual progress report to you. You will recall that our organisation sprang into existence in the mid-1990s, initially in Great Britain and later rapidly becoming world-wide — our sole purpose at that time was to try to achieve significant debt relief for the world’s most highly-indebted poor nations before or during the millennial Year of Jubilee in 2000. Despite some degree of success in this endeavour, and changing our name from Jubilee 2000 to Jubilee Australia, the continuing push for poor nation debt relief remains our core function.
We have seen our Australian Government forego a number of unilateral international loans, notably to Indonesia, Ethiopia and Nicaragua; we continue to lobby enthusiastically for the introduction of the Tobin transactions tax (the so-called “Robin Hood wealth tax”) which I have previously described to you at both a national and an international level: we are also continuing our campaign to curb or block the activities of the appropriately-titled “vulture” companies and corporations, which have chosen to shamelessly exploit some of the world’s poorest nations at great profit to themselves (once again, our activities are directed both locally and internationally).
Jubilee Australia has recently become concerned about the expressed attitudes of Rio Tinto and Bouganville Copper, who have recently initiated moves to re-open the Panguna copper mine on Bouganville Island — you will recall that in its previous incarnation, this mine was responsible for devastation and extensive pollution of the local population’s subsistence farming lands, as well as poisoning of the local waterways, and was the root cause of the civil war throughout the nineties, which eventually claimed considerably more than 10,000 (mainly civilian) lives. Prior to the Panguna mine’s closure in 1989, the mining companies had comprehensively failed to honour their guaranteed promises to improve local education, health care and roads, and to provide meaningful local employment. There seems to be every indication that these mining giants are presently preparing to resume mining under the same unacceptable conditions which previously led to the civil war, and Jubilee has begun intensive lobbying in the hope of achieving more equable environmental and employment outcomes.
The latest Federal Budget has proved to be quite disastrous for Australia’s overseas aid efforts. At one time, Australia joined with a number of other nations in pledging 0.75% of our gross national product (GNP) as our annual overseas aid commitment — although we did at one stage reach 0.5% of our GNP, our aid allocation has declined ever since, with over 12,000 million dollars having been slashed from the foreign aid budget since 2012; furthermore, since 2013 Federal Governments of both persuasions have siphoned a very large slice of the foreign aid budget into interdiction, apprehension, care and maintenance of our asylum seeker population – what sort of foreign aid is this? As Paul Ronalds, CEO of Save the Children Australia, recently wrote in The Advertiser: “Our friends around the globe ask us why one of the world’s richest nations has slashed its foreign aid?”
As I did last year, I would like once again conclude by bringing you a brief quote from one of last year’s Jubilee newsletters – “We are much more than a charity – our aim is to end structural inequality and the exploitation of the poor by the rich, and we call for global economic changes to foster a society based on justice, fairness and sustainability.”
Dr Andrew Buchanan
Jubilee Australia’s mission is Promoting accountability for the causes of poverty and injustice in the Asia Pacific, elevating the voices of affected communities, and inspiring Australians to get involved - See more at: http://www.jubileeaustralia.org
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