This week we have witnessed two key moments in history.
Words by James Thomson, Senior Policy and Protection Advisor, Act for Peace
For Australians, the election result was a watershed moment. Voters sent a clear and pointed message: no more divisive politics, political spin and poor governance. Instead, we want action on climate change, the cost of living, violence against women, and a federal integrity commission to combat corruption. Moreover, we want real political representation.
The Greens achieved their highest vote ever, record numbers voted for independent local candidates, and while Labor won the election, it was with one of the smallest primary votes for any incoming government. Anthony Albanese, in his victory speech, wisely struck a humble note, promising to bring the nation together and “promote unity and optimism, not fear and division”.
At the same time, a grim new world record was set. For the first time in history, the number of people displaced by violence and conflict around the globe – from Ukraine and Afghanistan to the lesser-known conflicts in Ethiopia and Myanmar – exceeded 100 million.
It’s a staggering milestone and a wake-up call; a harbinger of what’s to come if we fail to work together.
Decisive international action is needed to stop the conflicts, violence and discrimination that drive displacement. It requires political vision, joint diplomacy, strong alliances and a strong commitment to equitable development.
In 2020 alone, disasters – which are now far more frequent and destructive due to climate change – displaced an additional 30 million people. With repeated bushfires and floods, Australians are now counted in these numbers.
Fortunately, the political stars have now re-aligned in Australia’s new parliament.
Now is the time for Australians to push for action and to press for a more constructive human-centered foreign policy. It’s time to reverse the deep cuts made to foreign aid and development over the past decade and start contributing our fair share as a responsible nation. Most importantly, it’s time to invest in the relationship building and diplomacy that will help us address the world’s greatest challenges, like climate change, the global displacement crisis, and the protracted conflicts that continue to drive people from their homes and prevent them from returning.
Our new Government has an opportunity to step up and act for peace.
Together with your support, we can call for collective action this year:
- When Labor develops a new budget in October, we’ll be calling on them to stay true to their commitment to spend 50 cents in every 100 dollars of Australia’s gross national income on overseas aid and development.
- We’ll be making sure Australia takes a strong stand on climate change at COP 27.
- When DFAT develops a new aid and development policy, we’ll be pushing for action to address the global displacement crisis, and when the government reviews its foreign policy, we’ll be pushing for action to prevent further conflict, climate change and displacement.
Together, we can stand for a safer world where everyone belongs.
Feature image: Act for Peace’s local partner is helping support refugees in Ethiopia. Our new Government has an opportunity to step up and act for peace. Image: Eduardo Soteras / AFP via Getty Images.