• Christians create mock tax haven in Brisbane prior to G20

    Posted by Micah

    11 November, 2014

    The following article on our advocacy activities in Brisbane last weekend was originally published by Eternity online newspaper on Monday 10 November, 2014.

    Approximately 100 advocates from churches across Brisbane dressed as corporate accountants transformed part of Brisbane’s CBD into a tax evader’s paradise of palm trees, mocktails, beach chairs and briefcases on the weekend to shed light on the issue of multinational tax dodging.

    In the lead up to the G20 Leaders’ Summit that starts on Saturday (15 Nov), Micah Challenge’s “shine the light” campaign has been engaging Australian Christians in efforts to promote greater transparency in the global financial system for one primary aim – that poor nations would have greater access to tax revenue which is rightfully theirs.

    Brisbane advocates hold up their mocktails to shine a light on tax dodging and its impact on the poorBrisbane advocates hold up their mocktails to shine a light on tax dodging and its impact on the poor

    John Beckett, Micah Challenge’s National Coordinator, believes a lot is at stake when the world’s most powerful leaders meet in Brisbane this month.

    “Actions to crack down on tax dodging by multinational companies are already on the G20 agenda, so this meeting could be truly transformational if the leaders take concrete steps to increase transparency, releasing much needed revenue for developing countries,” said Mr Beckett.

    “The amount of money at stake is more than the global aid budget and represents a more sustainable source of finance in the long term for poverty reduction than aid.”

    Bishop Efraim (Philippines) presents the Open Letter to the Australian Parliament at the mock tax haven event.Bishop Efraim (Philippines) presents the Open Letter to the Australian Parliament at the mock tax haven event.

    Micah Challenge is however concerned that the decisions made could primarily benefit wealthy countries represented at the table, while ignoring the needs of developing nations.

    For this reason, hundreds of Christians across the country have been engaging Australian politicians on the issue over the past six months, through face-to-face meetings, letters, church-based actions and media. They have echoed the calls of thousands of Christians around the world, and over 90 prominent global church leaders who have signed an Open Letter to the G20 calling for greater action on transparency to benefit poor nations.  

    Seeking to make the most of the G20 opportunity, Brisbane churches and denominational networks partnered with Micah Challenge to host Shine the Light Brisbane on the weekend (8-9 Nov) – a weekend of worship, action and advocacy one week before the world leaders come to town. Brisbane Christians were invited to form the “world’s biggest mock tax haven” in the city’s CBD to help raise awareness of financial secrecy and influence G20 leaders to take concrete action.

    As the first official protest of the G20, the event received widspread national TV, radio, online and print media coverage in every major Australian media network. 

    Charles Newington, Senior Pastor of ACC-affiliated Cornerstone Christian Church in Brisbane, recognises how rare it is for Christians to have such a tangible opportunity to engage in global issues with the G20 bringing them to our door.

    “It gives us an opportunity to deepen local understanding of global issues. Such education can inform our prayers and how we engage in the Great Commission,” said Mr Newington.

    The Rev. Susan Pickering, Senior Minister of Brisbane's West End Uniting Church, says the G20 has provided a unique opportunity to partner with other churches and faith organisations in speaking with one voice against an issue of injustice.

    “This is an opportunity to be the prophetic voice that we are called to be – calling the world’s leaders to listen and respond on issues of injustice affecting the poor and vulnerable in our world.”

    If you would like to join Micah Challenge and Christians around the world in praying for the G20, please download the 'G20 Prayer Guide' here.