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Aid Working Group Gets Started

The Ministerial Working Group, set up to review New Zealand's overseas aid program has established its terms of reference and is ready to start work.

Minister for Overseas Aid, Matt Robson announced the terms of reference today. The group will report back early next year with recommendations on overall priorities for aid.

Terms of reference target how New Zealand aid can best contribute to the elimination of poverty and help to build good stable governance, particularly in the Pacific region.

"Recent instability in Fiji and the Solomon Islands makes this review very timely. Our aid programs can help to build a safe and secure region, and in the long run we all benefit from that," says Matt Robson.

"New Zealand's work in East Timor is a fine example of how aid can work for all parties involved. It is our aid budget that funds New Zealand prison officers, custom officers, police and other aid workers in East Timor who are vital in setting up a stable infrastructure in that war-torn fragile country. In the process we are also encouraging the use of New Zealand personnel, skills, businesses and services.

"New Zealanders have every right to stand tall in the world and feel proud of the achievements made in their name with New Zealand aid.

"We are playing a particularly active role in the Pacific, finding ways of solving Pacific problems with Pacific solutions. I want to visit schools across New Zealand and talk to these tax-payers of tomorrow about our aid program so that our kids can contact other kids in Pacific countries who are the direct recipients of our aid.

"A thorough review is timely. The last comprehensive evaluation of NZODA was carried out more than ten years ago."

"In May of this year the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) commended New Zealand for its overseas aid program as "serious and credible", but called on the new Labour Alliance government to act on its strong commitment to poverty reduction by carrying out a thorough review. That is exactly what we are doing," said Matt Robson.

The Working Group will be lead by two full time members, development consultant Annette Lees, and Joseph Grossman who has worked in development for many years.

Ends

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