• Voices for Justice 2014 Day 2

    Posted by Benton

    22 June, 2014

    One of the really wonderful things about Voices for Justice is not just the diverse collection of voices but also that those who work in developing countries are front and centre of the gathering.  

    Day 2 started with an invigorating panel discussion with Dereje Alemayehu (Chair, Tax Justice Network - Africa), Tagolyn Kabekabe (Pacific Facilitator, Anglican Alliance), and John Beckett aka JB (National Director, Micah Challenge Australia).

    Ben Thurley, Dereje Alemayehu, Tagolyn Kabekabe & John Beckett Ben Thurley, Dereje Alemayehu, Tagolyn Kabekabe & John Beckett Dereje spoke to us about tax justice and explained with great clarity the reasons why tackling tax dodging is so important and why the G20 in Brisbane this year is such an immense opportunity to affect change for the global poor. He also shared that for every dollar entering Africa, there are currently three dollars leaving Africa – such is the magnitude of this issue and the magnitude of harm being done to poverty reduction.

    Tagolyn spoke to us about the impacts of climate change in the Pacific and the current slow pace of action to reduce emissions and commit resources to climate change adaptation.  This is a topic very close to my heart and clearly a long term challenge where the impacts of climate change are more clearly understood in the Pacific Islands context than in Australia and it was wonderful to hear Tagolyn’s perspective.

    Dereje, Tagolyn and JB all returned yesterday from the C20, the Civil Society gathering modelled off the G20 and also shared with us the C20’s priorities for the G20 meeting in November.  It was heartening to hear that the C20 recognizes that while Australia and the G20 are focused on economic growth, that the growth needs to be inclusive so that everyone benefits (not just the rich) and that growth must be sustainable.

    The rest of the day flew past as we engaged in workshops and prepared for our meetings with our nation’s leaders over the next two days!  A highlight for me was Q&A sessions with Dr Mark Zirnsak and Gershon Nimbalker who between them must seriously have an encyclopaedic knowledge of all aspects of tax dodging and corruption.  I came away feeling prepared to meet our politicians tomorrow and determined to speak up against this insidious injustice.

    The day concluded with a church service at Hughes Baptist where we were very privileged to have Rev Dr Joel Edwards (International Director, Micah Challenge) share a stirring message from Luke 4:16-21/Isaiah 61.  Joel speaks with immense authenticity and shared with us God’s call to do as Jesus did in inhabiting scripture and embracing God’s redemptive mission in this world here and now.  

    He also reminded us that the centrepiece of God’s redemptive plan is dealing with human suffering – what a challenge and what a motivation for each of us.

    It’s an immense blessing to have leaders in the Micah Challenge family such as Joel and JB (and many others) that seek to embrace wholeheartedly God’s call to join his redemptive mission in this world and live it out through engaging in the public square.

    After two days of learning, training, sharing, praying, worshiping, listening and teaching, tomorrow we all head to Parliament House! We are keen to get in there and ask our leaders to act on the ABC of tackling tax evasion:
    •    A = Automatic Exchange of Information, 
    •    B = Beneficial Ownership Disclosure
    •    C = Country by Country reporting.  I’m excited!

    Benton Wecker is a committed Micah Challenge Campaigner, Climate Justice Advocate and participant at this year's Voices for Justice and is a part of the Bracken Ridge Baptist Church community in Brisbane.