• Australia's Minister for International Development

    Posted by Ben

    1 July, 2013

    Newly (re)installed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd took his ministerial team to the Governor General yesterday for swearing in. We'll leave it for others to comment on ALP leadership, the timing of an election, the make-up of the ministry, what it means for political debate in this country, and all that.

    Melissa Parke MPMelissa Parke MPMelissa Parke MP

    What we want to comment on is that Australia now has a Minister for International Development – Western Australian MP Melissa Parke. The last time Australia had ministry level representation for international development (rather than the more junior Parliamentary Secretary position) was in 1993–96 when Gordon Bilney was Minister for Development Cooperation and Pacific Affairs.

    It won't be a cabinet level ministry, but it brings a much needed specific focus on international development into government decision-making. Melissa Parke is well-regarded and has considerable relevant experience, having served as a human rights lawyer with the United Nations. She also spoke out strongly against the Government's diversion of aid towards the domestic costs of processing and supporting asylum-seekers. 

    We should also note that ministry level representation for International Development is now bipartisan policy – with the Coalition having taken it to the 2007 and 2010 elections as a policy commitment.

    On announcing the appointment of Melissa Parke to this newly-created role, Prime Minister Rudd said that "the hallmark of this Government is to take seriously our mission to those in Australia who don't have much and those around the world who have nothing at all."

    We hope that he means what he says, and that Melissa Parke is able to help take forward Australia's commitment to the Millennium Development Goals and to ending extreme poverty. 

    We offer our encouragement and our prayers to Melissa Parke, and all the other ministers in the Government. We hope that they will commit to finishing the race towards the MDG finish line in 2015, and going beyond.

    If you would like to give a nudge towards the finish line – you could send a simple message of support via twitter to @MelissaParkeMP or an email to Melissa.Parke.MP@aph.gov.au