Page 4387 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 13 October 2009

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Here in the ACT, we have five companies that meet: the 5th Canberra, which meets at Hughes Baptist Church; the 9th Canberra, which meets at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church; the 14th Canberra, which meets at the Tuggeranong Baptist Church; the 15th Canberra, which meets at Tuggeranong Uniting Church; and the 16th Canberra, which meets at Wattle Park Uniting Church.

I commend the many volunteers that make these companies possible here in the ACT. I congratulate the organisation for their many achievements, and look forward to the many years of success which lie ahead of them.


MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (5:04): Recently I had the great pleasure to attend an event organised to raise awareness of global food security through the Hike4Hunger, which was held on the morning of 9 October. This is the first year that this event has been held, and the focus for the Hike4Hunger 2009 campaign is food prices in Zimbabwe. In the ACT the Hike4Hunger event was held at Federation Square, in front of the forecourt of Parliament House, where the hikers set off from to walk to Mount Kosciuszko in the alpine national park.

It is fitting that the hike started from this place, the home of democracy in Australia. In this land of plenty it is easy to take for granted our freedoms and liberties. Civil unrest, peace and security challenges and human rights abuses are issues that Australians do not have to grapple with every day. Most of us are not faced with the daily challenge of having enough food for ourselves and our families, for instance. The suffering of the Zimbabwe people cannot be ignored.

One of the speakers that morning—her name was Helen—spoke about her experience as a nurse in one of the hospitals where she served in Zimbabwe, where it would not be unusual for her to find at least four babies dead during the night next to their mothers as a result of the effects of starvation. In March 2008 around 4 million Zimbabweans were dependent on international food aid. We know that water, sanitation and food security are likely to be continuing priorities.

Whilst Zimbabwe’s challenges remain daunting, some progress is being made and the Australian government has provided support to improve the conditions of those suffering hunger and poverty in Zimbabwe. We did hear from Mr Bob McMullan that at the moment other African countries that are producing food are actually exporting it to Zimbabwe, which is a very sad event indeed when Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of Africa.

Individuals can make a difference, and I want to take this opportunity to applaud the commitment and efforts of those sponsoring and participating in the Hike4Hunger in meeting those challenges by raising awareness and funds. I also applaud those Zimbabweans that sang and spoke on the morning and helped us really understand the impact of what is happening in Zimbabwe at the moment and the importance of the work that they are doing by hiking to Mount Kosciuszko to raise awareness.

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