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About Us



Jubilee Australia grew out of an international coalition of movements campaigning for the cancellation of third world debts in the late 1990s. Over the last 10 years, Jubilee has turned to focus more on the Asia-Pacific region. Read more below to learn about our major impacts across a range of issues.

Economic Justice

The Origins of Jubilee Australia

Jubilee Australia grew out of an international movement that was rooted in the principle of global economic justice. For over a decade, campaigners in the Global South had long demanded debt cancellation, since being rocked by the ‘third world debt crisis’ of the 1980s.On a Saturday in May 1998, 70,000 people formed a giant human chain around the meeting of G8 leaders in Birmingham UK. The Jubilee 2000 movement had reached the centres of global power. 

After a 1997 launch in Australia, the Jubilee Drop the Debt Coalition had over sixty member groups and the Jubilee 2000 petition became the largest foreign policy petition ever tabled in Australia, with over 450,000 signatures collected. In 2001, the organisation was renamed as Jubilee Australia.

Our Successes in the Debt Campaign

In 2001, thanks to the pressure of our campaign, our government pledged debt forgiveness for countries that qualified for relief under the IMF and World Bank HIPC scheme. In 2004 the government fulfilled its earlier commitment, cancelling the bilateral debts of the Central America country of Nicaragua, worth $5.4 million, followed by cancellation of Ethiopia’s bilateral debt of $7.9 million.

After these early successes, Jubilee began to focus more explicitly on the illegitimacy of the debts owed to Australia by regional neighbours like Indonesia and Philippines, instead of meeting addressing health and education needs in those countries.  In 2007, thanks to our advocacy, the new Labor government finally shifted Australia’s longstanding resistance to participate in a Debt-for-Development exchange. A portion ($37.5 million) of Indonesia's debt to Australia was subsequently cancelled in exchange for an equal contribution to the Global Fund programs addressing Tuberculosis in Indonesia. 

Tax Justice 

In 2010 Jubilee Australia launched the Australian arm of the Robin Hood Tax Campaign, to popularise the idea of a government tax on speculative wholesale financial transactions (FTT) to reduce high frequency speculation, slow the extraordinary growth in the derivatives market and which could raise billions to support social services and climate change action both here and overseas. The international FTT campaign had had great its greatest successes in Europe, with the EU implementing an FTT soon after.

In 2010, Jubilee was a founding member of the Tax Justice Network Australia (TJN-Australia). One of the focuses of the network is how multinational companies exploit a range of methods to avoid paying much needed tax revenues to developing countries.

Mining and Development

In 2008, Jubilee Australia begin to explore the impact of mining, oil and gas projects and how they impact on development and livelihoods in the Pacific region. Two landmark reports, Risky Business in 2009 and Pipe Dreams in 2012, have examined how Australian agencies push a bankrupt development model on less-well-off neighbours such as Papua New Guinea (PNG) in order to enhance corporate profits and Australian government influence. Recent developments in PNG have seen our work assume ever-greater relevance.

We have continued this work in recent years by examining the plans of local and Australian actors to reopen the former PNG province of Bougainville up to mining. Bougainville once hosted the enormous Panguna copper mine, a project which did irreversible damage to the island's environment and which led to the region's most destructive civil war. Our work, including our reports Voices of Bougainville (2014) and Devil in the Detail (2015) have raised awareness about the dangers present in this strategy and helped local communities and landowners question the wisdom of down this path. 

Corporate Accountability

For many years now, Jubilee has argued that unless our institutions are reformed and new frameworks are put in place, the problems of unsustainable lending, damaging resource extraction will continue to happen. 

The main focus of our efforts has been the reform of Efic, Australia's export credit agency. Efic loans have financed many of the most disastrous mining projects in our region, which have been associated with human rights abuses and environmental destruction, especially in our resource rich neighbour PNG. Since 2010, Jubilee Australia has led a coalition of civil society organisations, including Oxfam, the Human Rights Law centre and, more recently, Action Aid, in pushing for more transparency and accountability over Efic decisions. Although there have been some small successes, the struggle continues.

Since 2013, Jubilee has broadened its attention to engage not just with financing agencies like Efic but with reform of the relevant companies themselves, engaging with Rio Tinto, Oil Search, Exxon and Bougainville Copper Limited, among others. With the appointment in 2017 of a permanent Business and Human Rights Advisor, this work is set to expand in coming years.






The Australia Institute