Hanoi, December 3, 2014 (Alochonaa): Australia’s G20 presidency ended on December 1, 2014. They could have used it to lead the world in tackling the issues that matter most, but instead spent most of the year resisting calls to do something serious about inequality and climate change.
Even the positive steps they did take – like making progress on reducing corporate tax dodging – were started under last year’s Russian presidency. They also went out of their way to try to keep most NGOs out of the G20 media centre, telling us there would be no room, when it turned out there was acres of unused space. But big business got treated very differently: the Business20 had their own private session with the G20 Heads of State at the summit. It’s not hard to see who the Australian Presidency valued above all others: their friends in big business. But even so, it will be interesting to see whether the centerpiece of Australia’s G20 agenda – country plans to grow by 2% above trend over the next 5 years – will even be remembered in 2019.
I’m looking forward to the Turkish G20 Presidency, which starts tomorrow. Despite some unfortunate recent comments on the role of women, inequality and development are squarely on the agenda. Let’s hope the Turks deliver for the world where the Australians failed.
*Steve Price-Thomas is based in Hanoi, Vietnam and works for an NGO. This post reflects his personal view.
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