Tura Beach woman Carol Bartlett became a political lobbyist when she joined more than 200 passionate campaigners from across Australia at Parliament House in Canberra to advocate for the rights of the global poor.
The group of concerned citizens were in Canberra from 21-24 June for the Voices for Justice lobbying event co-ordinated by the Micah Challenge anti-poverty campaign. The group met with over 100 members of Parliament and senators to urge them to take strong action against corporate tax dodging which drains developing countries of billions of dollars each year.
With financial secrecy and tax dodging on the agenda for discussion when the world’s most economically powerful leaders (the G20) meet in Brisbane this November, Ms Bartlett was one voice among many seeking to ensure the decisions made will benefit citizens of poor nations.
“Most people don’t realise that the vast majority of money flowing out of developing countries is not stolen by corrupt politicians and dictators, but rather is pulled out by large multinational corporations who exploit loopholes in the global tax system to shift their profits away from the countries they operate within,” said Ms Bartlett who is a practising optometrist.
According to Ms Bartlett, while multinational tax dodging and corruption impacts all nations, including Australia, developing countries suffer the worst.
“Highly conservative estimates show that poor nations lose more than $160 billion each year through corporate tax dodging, which is more money than they receive annually in foreign aid,” said Carol.
“This is money which rightfully belongs to the citizens of these countries and should be being used to provide essential services like healthcare, education, infrastructure and water,” she said.
Ms Bartlett, who is a parish council member of Sapphire Coast Anglican Parish, and Rev Gail Tabor of Bega had a private meeting with member for Eden-Monaro Peter Hendy at his Bega office after the Voices for Justice event.
“It was a privilege to represent the electorate of Eden-Monaro and speak out for those who aren’t able to speak for themselves,” Ms Bartlett said.
“We discussed with Dr Peter Hendy that as host of the G20 leaders’ summit this year, Australia has an opportunity to lead concrete action against tax dodging and help drive a major breakthrough in the fight against extreme poverty.
“Dr Hendy was supportive of the proposals. He said: ‘I’m particularly interested in these issues and I’ll be looking to make a speech in Parliament about shining the light on tax dodging and corruption.’”
Voices for Justice brings together school students and retirees, teachers and plumbers, aid workers and church leaders from across the country.
Micah Challenge is a global movement of aid and development agencies, churches, schools, groups and individuals who are speaking out against poverty and injustice in support of the Millennium Development Goals. See www.micahchallenge.org.au.