Senator Wong presents at UQ

19 March 2019

Senator the Honourable Penny WongLast week UQ’s School of Political Science and International Studies welcomed Senator the Honourable Penny Wong to present at their 2019 Annual Lecture.

Held at the State Library of Queensland on Tuesday, 12 March, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Labor Senator for South Australia Senator Wong discussed Rebuilding Australia’s International Development Program for a Time of Disruption.

A member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, Senator Wong announced during the lecture that health, education, climate change, human rights and gender equality will be at the heart of a future Labor government international aid budget. 

In her speech, Senator Wong said it would be impossible for Labor to replace the $11bn cut from Australia’s aid budget since the Coalition came to power in 2013, but vowed to increase development assistance as a percentage of national income and commit funds to Pacific programs.

“The cuts have not only had a very real impact to the people who benefit from investments in areas like health and education, they have damaged Australia’s reputation as a reliable partner in the region and lessened Australia’s influence precisely at the same time our national interest compels us to engage more deeply,” she said.

Senator Wong also spoke of the importance of better coordination of Australia’s engagement across government, NGOs, academia and the private sector.

“Aid is one part of Australia’s international engagement, which includes diplomacy, trade, labour mobility and private-sector investment.

“Labor’s foreign policy is founded on the belief that we deal with the world as it is and we seek to change it for the better,” Senator Wong said.

“We know what we stand for: compassion, equality, fairness, democratic principles and the protection of rights.”

Senator Wong said their foreign policy will speak to who we are, the confidence we have in ourselves, the values we believe in and to the region and world we want to live in.

“Labor believes Australia can show humanity, decency and compassion to ensure a fair go for all – at home, on our doorstep, and abroad.”

Australians are generous – in 2018, Australia ranked second in the World Giving Index, behind only Indonesia – a reflection of the willingness of Australians to help a stranger, donate to charity and volunteer.

“Our International Development Program should once again reflect the generous spirit of the Australian people,” Senator Wong said.

You can hear more of Senator Wong’s UQ address and watch the lecture in its entirety here.