Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek has told a gathering of US business people the G20 agenda was changed due to anger over the budget.
Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek has told a gathering of American business people that a reference to “inclusive” economic growth has been rubbed from the G20 agenda because of widespread anger in Australia over the federal budget.
Speaking in Sydney on Tuesday, Ms Plibersek said Australia and the US shared an enduring history of “shared values” and a commitment to democracy but also faced similar challenges, including suffering from “hyper-partisanship” in domestic political circles.
Ms Plibersek said partisan politics in the US is “as acute, I think, as any of us have ever seen”, citing the refusal of Congress to ratify the UN convention on the law of the sea.
“In Australia, I think we’re making some similar, very short-term and ill-advised decisions,” she told the American Chamber of Commerce.
Ms Plibersek, who is opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman, said Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s refusal to put climate change and inequality on the G20 agenda were examples of Australia putting its domestic politics ahead of working internationally to address these problems.
Ms Plibersek said the communique from last year’s G20 meeting stressed the importance of “balanced, inclusive and sustainable growth” but following February’s G20 Finance Ministers Meeting in Sydney, the word inclusive was dropped from the agenda for the Brisbane summit in November.
“The reason that it’s not on the agenda for the G20 is because the reception of this year’s budget has been very poor, and the reason why it’s been poor is there’s a general perception in the community that it’s not a fair budget,” she said.
“To have world leaders talking about equality, inequality, the brake on economic development that comes with growing inequality, wouldn’t suit the domestic political agenda.”
Ms Plibersek said Mr Abbott’s refusal to put climate change on the agenda for the Brisbane summit was at odds with other world leaders, including US President Barack Obama.
“Nobody expects the G20 to be the meeting where people make binding commitments or talk about how exactly each country is going to reduce its climate emissions but what the G20 can be is a statement that the G20 members understand that this is a pressing economic issue.”
“By contrast the United States is setting a very good example in this area.”