Anti-poverty goals 'ignored' in this election

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Thousands of people have gathered at Sydney's Manly Beach to spell out an important message they say has been neglected during the federal election campaign.

Thousands of people have gathered at Sydney's Manly Beach to spell out an important message they say has been neglected during the federal election campaign.

They collectively formed the words "Halve Poverty 2015"as part of a national movement to put global aid spending back on Australia's agenda.

"We're in the middle of the pack of the top 20 donors," says Marc Purcell from the Australian Council for International Development.

"Australia is number 13 in giving aid. Annually about 1.4 per cent of our federal budget goes towards overseas aid. It's not a lot compared to what we spend domestically. We're saying we can do both."

The Halve Poverty event forms just one part of a national campaign called "Finish the Race".

The campaigners are urging federal politicians to ensure Australia does its part to achieve eight goals set out by the United Nations.

The Millenium Development Goals range from providing universal primary education to halting the spread of HIV AIDS by 2015.

John Beckett from Micah Challenge Australia says there is room for improvement in the government's overseas aid commitment.

"We've already halved the number of people who don't have access to clean drinking water back in 2010. That's ahead of schedule. We've made some amazing progress but there's more to be done."

Advocates want Australia to commit 0.7 per cent of its Gross National Income to overseas aid by 2020.

And they've been been specifically targetting sitting federal MPs to take notice.

Manly is in the seat of Warringah held by opposition leader Tony Abbott.

The Coalition says if elected, the overseas aid commitment will be 0.5 per cent of Gross National Income.

New South Wales Treasurer Mike Baird accepted the petition on Mr Abbott's behalf.

"He doesn't want to overpromise something. He's listened to the calls that have been made today, and he'll consider it when he puts together his budget," Mr Baird says.

Warringah's other candidates were invited to the event, but the organisers only wanted the sitting member to speak.

Labor says it's already budgeted for 0.5 per cent of Gross National Income to go towards overseas aid by 2017.

Read Homeless in Melbourne: Troy's story.

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