Last month I met with Melanie Marshall, Belinda Groves and Elizabeth Stone from the Micah women's leadership network. Micah Australia is a coalition of churches and Christian non-profits who advocate for Australia to play a more significant role in the fight against extreme poverty and injustice. And in a world grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, that fight has never been more important.
The impact of COVID-19 on efforts to combat poverty has been devastating. The World Bank estimates that 150 million people will be pushed into extreme poverty by the pandemic. In countries across Africa and the Middle East, 34 million people—half of them children—face starvation. Micah Australia has called for a $150 million emergency famine package for countries at high risk of famine, and it is so important that the Australian government step up and make a contribution.
Of course, as we know from our own experience, the best way out of this crisis is by getting vaccinations into arms. Only one per cent of people in low-income countries have received even a single dose of the vaccine. The delta variant we are battling in Australia today continues to run rampant around the world. We are in a race to vaccinate as many people as possible, because, until we do, thousands will continue to die every week.
Australia's responsibilities will not end with the pandemic. Over the eight long years of this government, drastic cuts to the aid budget have seen us become one of the least generous nations in the OECD. Labor is committed to rebuilding our international development program, and in government would increase our aid budget— (Time expired)