Greens demand the Federal Government review its funding arrangements with Bangladesh

Today in Parliament, Abigail gave notice of a motion calling on the Government to support anti-corruption initiatives in Bangladesh and to exercise thorough due diligence to ensure Australian funds allocated to the country are not lining the pockets of crooked officials.

Abigail said:

I give notice that on the next sitting day I will move: 

(1) That this House notes that:

  • on 20 May 2024 the U.S. Department of State announced the public designation of former General Aziz Ahmed, previously Chief of the Bangladesh Army Staff, for significant corruption including interfering in public processes, assisting his brother to evade accountability for criminal activity and accepting bribes in exchange for government appointments,
  • there are many accounts of corrupt activity being undertaken by Bangladeshi officials, with the chair of the Bangladeshi Anti Corruption Commission stating in November 2020 that bribery and corruption are rampant in government services in Bangladesh,
  • corruption in Bangladesh has undermined its democratic institutions and the public’s faith in public institutions and processes, and
  • the Bangladeshi authorities have further undermined democratic institutions and processes by:
    • rigging elections and violently silencing or arresting over 8,000 members of the opposing party in order to maintain power,
    • subjecting their citizens to arbitrary arrests, intimidation, surveillance, extortion and torture, and
    • carrying out over 600 enforced disappearances since 2009, of which 100 individuals are still missing.

(2) That this House notes that:

  • the Australian government gave $116.2 million in developmental aid to Bangladesh in the 2023-24 financial year and supports Bangladeshi students as they pursue graduate school in Australia, and
  • without careful vigilance over how this money and support is distributed, Australia is at risk of putting money in the pockets of corrupt officials who have taken an active part in human rights violations and undermining democracy. 

(3) That this House:

  • supports anti-corruption efforts in Bangladesh to make government services more transparent and affordable, improve the business and regulatory environment, and build capacity in investigating and prosecuting money laundering and other financial crimes,
  • calls on the Bangladeshi government to immediately allow a free, fair and democratic election to occur, and
  • calls on the Australian government to immediately review its funding arrangements with Bangladesh, including more comprehensive screening of Bangladeshi officials, to ensure Australian funds are being used to support the people of Bangladesh and not lining the pockets of corrupt officials.

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