The Standard hasn’t commented on what’s happening with NZAID yet, and people can be forgiven for not knowing what’s going on. But chances are, by the time you get your head around it, NZAID will be history.
Foreign Minister Murray McCully has instigated two reviews into NZAID, the semi-autonomous government department which oversees how development aid is distributed. Some of his comments have been very worrying. He claims that aid “payments” have become “a handout rather than a hand up . You could ride around in a helicopter pushing hundred-dollar notes out the door and call that poverty elimination.” He also stated in a recent speech that NZAID’s focus on poverty alleviation is an “old mantra” and that we should be focusing on economic growth. In other words, serving NZ’s and poor countries’ economic elite – an scenario all too common.
As a matter of fact, NZAID has had reviews, and has been praised for its work on poverty reduction. Furthermore, at international consensus, poverty reduction are key Millennium Development Goals. Oxfam New Zealand’s executive director Barry Coates suggested that ‘overseas aid would be at risk of becoming a political tool in the service of the Government’s foreign policy objectives if the changes Mr McCully was suggesting went ahead . There are many examples of aid being spent for political purposes rather than the benefit of the country concerned.”
It’s clear that Murray’s NZAID “reviews” are a window dressing to legitimise his already made up mind. Murray, well known for his cut throat style, wants control. Murray wants to reincorporate NZ’s well-respected aid programme into NZ’s foreign policy objectives. Murray must be stopped.
A campaign has been launched by key NZ NGOs www.dontcorruptaid.org.nz
If we want international aid to be effective and NZ’s reputation respected, NZAID and MFAT need to be kept separate. Aid should go to those in need, and not be used to serve Western capitalist interests.