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Oxfam political debate series in Auckland

Oxfam political debate series in Auckland (and Wellington)

International development agency Oxfam New Zealand is hosting three political debates this month in the lead up to the 2008 Election. Relevant spokespeople from the major parties will be on the panel to front up on their plans to tackle the big global challenges: climate change, foreign policy and international trade.

Media are invited to cover the debates.

Monday, October 13, 6- 7pm - Tackling Climate Poverty

Moderator: Wallace Chapman

Panel: David Parker (Labour), Nick Smith (National), Jeanette Fitzsimons (Greens), Kath McCabe (ACT)
Venue: Lecture room WA 220, WA building, AUT, Wellesley St East

Tuesday, October 21, 7- 8pm - Ending Global Poverty and Building a Safer World

Moderator: Bill Ralston

Panel: Minister Phil Goff (Labour), Keith Locke (Greens), Kath McCabe (ACT), National Party representative, yet to be confirmed
Venue: Lecture room WA 220, WA building, AUT, Wellesley St East

The format for each debate is modelled on the UK’s BBC production ‘Question Time’. Party spokespeople will be invited to respond to questions put forward by members of the public.

Why is Oxfam hosting the debates?

Oxfam New Zealand aims to stimulate more discussion on key international issues prior to the forthcoming election. New Zealand is inextricably linked to a world which faces serious crises. This election must address the interlinked crises of climate change, high food prices and energy, deepening poverty experienced by over a billion people and the recent financial turmoil. These are issues that a future government will need to deal with and voters need to be able to understand where the parties stand.

Oxfam New Zealand is one of 13 Oxfam affiliates working in more than 100 countries to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice. Oxfam New Zealand works in the Pacific, East Asia and Africa supporting developing communities to access safe water and sanitation, to build sustainable livelihoods, to provide education and healthcare and to live free from persecution and violence.

Climate change – Tackling Climate Poverty

The developed nations of the world, such as New Zealand, have been responsible for most of the global emissions of greenhouse gases. Therefore, since we are part of the problem, we must be part of finding a just and sustainable solution. A key issue for the forthcoming election must be the policies of a future government in playing a constructive role in finding an equitable multilateral agreement to tackle climate change.

This is also important in terms of our relations with other countries. Our Pacific neighbours, for example, will bear the brunt of a problem they have not caused. The viability of small islands and whole nations is under threat. New Zealand has a role to play in helping poor and vulnerable countries to deal with the potentially devastating impacts of climate change.

New Zealand’s foreign policy - Ending Global Poverty and Building a Safer World

Foreign policy is not one of the top issues mentioned by voters in the current election, but a large number of voters want New Zealand to be a good global citizen, and want to be proud of our country on the international stage.

Amongst the challenges facing the next government is the ongoing crisis of poverty. Despite the recent commodity boom, many countries will fail to meet the targets established in the Millennium Development Goals. As many as 14 billion people in the developing world (one in four) are living in extreme poverty, on less than US$1.25 a day, according to the World Bank. The regions falling furthest behind are sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific. New Zealand has a special responsibility to support our Pacific neighbours in addressing the cycle of conflict, instability and deprivation that affects most of the Pacific.

The current global financial crisis will also impact severely on the poorest countries, already struggling to cope with higher food and energy prices. Deepening poverty will mean that more countries face instability and social unrest. Tackling poverty is an essential contribution to creating a safer world.

Internationally, the next government will be faced with ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, terrorism and violations of human rights in the fight against terrorism. Our relations with Asia and the Pacific will be crucial in forging an independent foreign policy. Our actions on the international stage, around the board table of the IMF and World Bank, in the United Nations and with other nations have the potential to influence global outcomes.

Oxfam is not affiliated to any political party and we are committed to working with all political parties to promote the achievement of poverty reduction and international justice.

For your information Wellington debate details below:

Tuesday, October 14, 5:30–6:30pm, - Make Trade Fair
Panel: Minister Phil Goff (Labour), Tim Groser (National), Ken Graham (Greens)
Moderator: Oxfam Executive Director Barry Coates
Venue: Room GBLT2, Government Buildings, Pipitea Campus, 15 Lambton Quay, Victoria University

Please note: Oxfam has been collecting a petition in the form of a Pacific-style lei addressed to Trade Minister Phil Goff calling on the government to Make Trade Fair for people living in poverty, especially our Pacific neighbours. The petition, signed by 2400 New Zealanders last summer, will be colourfully presented to Mr Goff and other speakers at Wellington’s trade debate. The Lei petition is part of a wide-reaching Make Trade Fair campaign signed by 20,000 New Zealanders and more than 20 million people worldwide.


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