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Speech: Pay tribute to Andrew Hewett

Speeches in Parliament
Lee Rhiannon 6 Dec 2012


Adjournment Speech - 27 November 2012

On another matter, tonight I wish to pay tribute to Andrew Hewett. Andrew is resigning as Oxfam executive director. I congratulate Andrew for his tremendous contribution to overseas development. What I have admired in Andrew's work, since I met him in the early nineties, is his commitment to involve in decision making, at both ends of development, the people who are the recipient of Australia's aid and those who campaign and advocate in Australia for a more humane and environmentally appropriate overseas aid program. People matter to Andrew. When you talk with him about the many projects he is driving, about his strategic plans for Oxfam, about campaigning to influence government policy, Andrew is brimming with ideas on how to create meaningful involvement of communities and people wherever they live, whatever their abilities.

I first met Andrew when I worked with Aid/Watch in the early 1990s and Andrew was establishing Oxfam's advocacy and campaigning program. In Australia's vibrant overseas aid community, Andrew has been a leading light with over two decades working with one of the world's leading aid bodies, Oxfam. Andrew has done the heavy lifting too in delivering aid projects. He coordinated Oxfam's international response to the 1990 Timor-Leste crisis and worked on the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, and the recent African food crises. Since 2001, Andrew has been Oxfam's executive director. He is on the board of ACFID, the peak council of non-government overseas development agencies, co-chair of the Make Poverty History coalition, and a member of the Oxfam international board.

Andrew clearly has a talent for organising and motivating people and those skills have been honed over a lifetime of work taking on injustice. When Andrew was at school, he helped for a secondary student union. He stood with his teachers when they staged a five-week strike and spoke out publicly in support of those teachers, giving what was probably his first TV interview. After school his activism continued as an organiser with the Australian Union of Students, and later in a similar role with People for Nuclear Disarmament, where he organised two of the massive Palm Sunday rallies that brought hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets in Melbourne and around the nation in a united call to end the nuclear arms build-up.

Andrew's bent for a creative approach shone in one of his most challenging jobs—organising for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament at Barrow-in-Furness in north-west England, where a third of the workforce was employed building Trident nuclear submarines. Andrew worked with the local trade unions and workers to develop a committee to find alternative employment.

I congratulate Andrew for what he has brought to overseas development in terms of delivery, policy and building campaigning experience in Australia. I have particularly admired his commitment to members of Oxfam. He never lost sight of the fact that these are the people he works for. (Time expired)


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