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Pacific aid boost 'shows the lie' in govt's social deficit claims

The National Party is questioning why the government is sending millions of dollars abroad while talking about crises in underfunding at home.

National Party leader Simon Bridges Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The government is to hike foreign aid by $700 million over the next four years - with another $190 million dollars for the diplomatic service - as part of its 'Pacific reset' strategy.

It said New Zealand has to demonstrate it was serious about addressing global challenges and helping those in need.

However, National Party leader Simon Bridges told Morning Report the funding boost exposed the government's claim that there has been huge underfunding from the previous government.

Mr Bridges said the spending was not wrong per se, but he questioned the government's priorities saying it was going back on its core promises such as the cheaper universal doctor's visits.



"It very much shows the lie in what the government's saying about how they've been left with this huge social deficit they've got to rebuild, while if that was true in health and education then surely that's ... where the money would go," he said.

"I think most New Zealanders would say 'meet your core promises on health and education not this'" - Simon Bridges - duration 6:00 - from Morning Report

Click a link to play audio (or right-click to download) in either
MP3 format.

Mr Bridges said the boost for Foreign Affairs was payback for the New Zealand First leader, Winston Peters, choosing to go with Labour to form a coalition government.

Foreign affairs minister Winston Peters was scheduled to appear on Morning Report but pulled out.

On average, OECD countries give 0.4 percent of their gross national income in aid.

Last year, New Zealand gave 0.23 percent - down from 0.3 in 2008. The government's announcement lifts that support to 0.28 percent.

The Australian government announced in its federal budget yesterday that it would also be increasing aid to the Pacific.

"China is here to stay, China's not going to disappear from the Pacific" - Victoria University of Wellington comparative politics professor Jon Fraenkel duration - 5:08 from Morning Report

Click a link to play audio (or right-click to download) in either
MP3 format.


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