• Voices for Justice 2014 Day 3

    Posted by Benton

    23 June, 2014

    Well I’m sitting here typing this in the middle of Queens Terrace Cafe in Parliament House and the buzz from Voices for Justice participants is infectious and so exciting!  It’s actually hard to hear yourself above it all! I think all 220 Christians here at Voices for Justice feel the immense privilege it is to be able to speak truth to our nation’s leaders so that, as Joel Edwards spoke to us about last night, we may join in God’s mission in this world of proclaiming good news to the poor and setting the oppressed free.

    And as Tom Wright would say, the good news of Jesus and his resurrection is that God’s mission is not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonise earth with the life of heaven.  For me, Voices for Justice puts flesh and blood on this idea.

    At Voices, when we engage with our politicians we are all seeking to respond to these critical questions: who is being oppressed or treated unfairly, and am I standing with them as Jesus would?

     And as Dereje Alemayehu stressed to us,  tax justice isn’t difficult and it isn’t subversive!  The money being ripped out of developing countries is rightfully theirs and transparency is fundamental to exposing the tax dodging and corruption that strips developing countries of their capacity to lift people out of extreme poverty.

    Day 1 in Parliament House started early on the lawns of Parliament House with a beautiful Indigenous blessing and prayer time.  My lobby group then arrived at our first meeting with Luke Howarth MP, Member for Petrie.

    Participants meeting with Luke Howarth Participants meeting with Luke Howarth The meeting with Luke was incredibly positive and Luke was keen to know which developing countries are most impacted by tax dodging and corruption.  Luke also said he would make a speech in support of the Shine the Light campaign and prayed for us at the end of the meeting.  It was a fantastic start to our two days in Parliament house and it was really wonderful to discuss how tax dodging and corruption affects the poor and the opportunity Australia has as the Chair of the G20 this year.

    In between meetings we dropped into the office of Shayne Neumann, Member for Blair, watched Question Time with a mixture of fascination and despair, and I typed half of this blog!  
    Our last meeting of the day was with Terri Butler MP, Member for Griffith.  Terri was also extremely supportive of the Shine the Light campaign and also expressed strong support for increasing Australia’s overseas aid contributions.  From her work on the House of Representatives Standing on Tax and Revenue, Terri was very familiar with the issue of tax dodging and asked some really interesting and thought-provoking questions about how Australia could use it’s opportunity at the G20 to create lasting change for the poor. She also gave us tea! Hurrah!

    This meeting was even more interesting as the Guardian journalist Van Badham joined us was also incredibly interested and very well-informed on the issue of tax justice and tax dodging.  It’s wonderful to know that tax justice for the poor is not only becoming familiar with our politicians but is already familiar in parts of the media and becoming even more so!  

    Australian anti-poverty advocacyAustralian anti-poverty advocacyWe finished off tonight by taking a fantastic Shine the Light photo will all of the participants together in the dark, so that we are able to spread the message that we are here in Canberra to shine the light on tax dodging and corruption.

    Tomorrow we meet Wayne Swan MP, my local member of Parliament. Bring it on!

    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.