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Petition calls on Govt to up foreign aid

Petition calls on Government to pull its weight over international aid promises

12 May 2005

New Zealand’s Parliamentarians will today (12 May) be offered a break from Bellamy’s menu and have instead been invited to step outside for lunch - a simple lunch that is the staple diet for millions of people in the world.

The Council for International Development, on behalf of 20 development aid agencies, is presenting its petition today calling on the Government to honour its international promises. It’s asking it to do its share to help tackle poverty, particularly in the Pacific region.

CID Board member, Paul Martell says New Zealand is among the least generous of the OECD donor countries – ranking 18th out of 22, behind countries like Australia, Spain and Ireland.

He says our Government has been dragging its heels over its United Nations promises to increase aid to 0.7 percent by 2015. This year, our Government contributed just 0.27 percent to aid, including the tsunami relief package.

“We need to make our politicians understand that this is an issue of honour and New Zealand is one of only three countries that have yet to establish a timetable to start moving towards that goal of 0.7 percent,” Mr Martell says.

Recently UN secretary general Kofi Annan warned that the Millennium Development Goals – a set of specific targets aimed at reducing global poverty by 2015 – were on the point of collapse.

The goals include halving the estimated 1.2 billion people who live on less than US$1 a day and giving all children a primary education. Mr Annan said that unless countries such as New Zealand started to significantly increase aid levels this year these goals would not be achieved.

“This is crunch time. It means New Zealand can’t continue to ignore this. We certainly need to ask why the Government signed up to these goals if it’s not going to follow through with action,” says Paul Martell.

The petition will be handed to Wellington Central MP, Marian Hobbs outside Parliament at midday.

As well as lunch, the members of Parliament will be treated to a performance by actors from the Wellington Performing Arts Centre and entertainment by members of the Wellington Batucada.

“We expect this to be a colourful and entertaining event but with a very serious message to Government,” says Mr Martell.

ENDS

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