Bill Gates urges Aussies to boost foreign aid and immunize children

Bill Gates has given Aussies some advice: boost foreign aid, immunize your kids and please don't ask me too much about corporate tax.

Well, maybe not that last bit, but the Microsoft founder was asked about the increased scrutiny of the tax practices of multinationals in the United States and abroad.

In response, Gates — whose company the US Senate subcommittee has previously accused of shifting intellectual property and associated income to subsidiaries in tax havens — said he supported a wide-ranging debate on corporate tax.

“That’s a good debate that people should have," he told reporters in Canberra, the capital of Australia, where he is promoting the charity he runs with his wife, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Putting on his philanthropist hat, Gates urged Australia to boost foreign aid.

Gates made his plea following Australia's announcement that it was delaying a pledge to increase overseas aid spending to 0.5 percent of gross national income by 2015-16, the Associated Press reported.

Australia's foreign aid budget will increase to 0.37 percent in the next fiscal year, however Gates said more money was needed for vital medicine and agricultural developments.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard responded to Gates' plea by saying her government would spend another $77 million on polio eradication efforts.

Gates' other message was to Australian parents, saying vaccines were "there to help people" and had helped save millions of lives in developing countries.

Adelaide Now quoted Gates as saying:

"Vaccinate your children. Vaccines are there to protect people and thank goodness they are used hundreds of millions of times and so the net benefit is quite strong... We have to be very very careful about vaccine safety, but the existing ones are quite well established."

Meanwhile, Australia is currently drafting tax laws to prevent big companies, including the local arm of Google Inc., from using a web of offshore holding companies to avoid paying higher local taxes.

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