Today, as leaders from business and politics gather in Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum, our new figures reveal that the wealthiest continue to get wealthier:
- 80 billionaires have amassed the same wealth as half of humanity – down from 85 one year ago
- By next year, just 1% of people will have the same wealth as the other 99%
- It would take almost 68 million years for one of the 500 million people who barely survive on USD $1.25 a day across Asia to earn as much money as the region’s richest person
So what’s Australia doing to address this? The answer is we’re turning our backs on those left in poverty.
Oxfam CEO, Helen Szoke said yesterday: “It is hard to believe that the Abbott Government are cutting aid to the poorest given the shocking rise in inequality in our own backyard, which we know is not just bad news for those at the bottom but also damages economic growth.
“The scale of the aid cuts – the biggest in Australia’s history – will take Australia’s aid effort to its lowest level since aid records began, in 1960.”
Australian aid is a vital part of our contribution to supporting people to overcome poverty and address extreme inequality.
So it’s more important than ever that we stand up for it.
From Grant Hill, International Development Campaign Lead, Oxfam Australia
Background: Australian assistance to Bougainville
Australia has made an important contribution to the Bougainville peace process, particularly through its leadership of the Peace Monitoring Group (PMG). The PMG remained on Bougainville from May 1998 to 30 June 2003, and involved unarmed military and civilian personnel from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Vanuatu. It helped build confidence in the peace process, including by facilitating meetings and distributing peace-related information. At its peak the PMG comprised around 300 personnel. In total, around 3,800 Australian Defence Force personnel and 300 Australian civilians served at various times in the PMG. Australia also led the civilian Bougainville Transition Team (BTT) that replaced the PMG from 30 June 2003 until 31 December 2003. The BTT continued the peace-related activities of the PMG, but on a reduced scale.
Australia has complemented its support for peacekeeping with substantial reconstruction aid. Since 1997, Australia has provided over A$250 million to support Bougainville’s peace process and post-conflict reconstruction. Current Australian aid in Bougainville is focused on assisting implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, improving service delivery in the four Partnership for Development priority Sectors, and fostering employment-focused economic development.