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Government to face challenge over aid policies

MEDIA ADVISORY 13 May 2005

Government to face challenge over aid policies

It’s likely the Labour-led Government will face a challenge over its overseas aid policies, if re-elected later this year.

The Government has so far failed to set a timetable to meet its United Nations obligations to contribute 0.7 percent of income to overseas development aid by 2015.

However, several of the Labour party’s potential coalition partners have now called on the Government to honour that commitment and put in place a timetable to achieve the 0.7 percent goal.

This has been welcomed by the Council for International Development, which represents 73 overseas aid agencies. CID spokesperson, Paul Martell says it’s clear that if Labour is re-elected, New Zealand’s international aid obligations will be one of the significant areas of negotiation by the Government’s likely coalition partners.

The Council handed Parliament a 14,000-strong petition calling on the Government to take immediate steps to reach the internationally-agreed target of contributing 0.7 percent of Gross National Income in aid by 2015.

Mr. Martell says it was heartening to hear from a number of political parties at the petition handover that there is widespread support for our Government honouring its United Nations aid promise.

Green party spokesperson, Keith Locke says his party fully supports the petition and has given an assurance that this issue will be high on the Greens’ list of negotiating points in any future coalition talks with the Government.

United Future leader Peter Dunne has also unequivocally supported the 0.7 percent target.

Mr. Dunne says he supports a suggestion by the Progressives for a joint political party accord on development aid similar to the superannuation deal.

Progressives’ spokesperson, Matt Robson says it is important to get to the 0.7 percent target in the quickest possible time and has suggested that a cross-party accord would be one way of achieving that.

Meanwhile, NZ First spokesperson Dail Jones says that New Zealand should be doing a lot more to contribute to reducing poverty in the world.

Mr Jones says that we need to look more widely and be able to respond to situations like the crisis in Darfur – a catastrophe he says this country has largely ignored.

“It’s very encouraging to hear these views and it means that this is something that the Government cannot continue to ignore,” says Mr Martell. New Zealand is one of only three countries to have signed up to the United Nations 0.7 percent aid commitment that has yet to establish a timetable to start increasing aid towards the 0.7 percent target.

Mr Martell says currently New Zealand gives just 0.23 percent of gross national income to overseas aid – well below the 0.7 percent target and significantly below the average OECD contribution of 0.41 percent.

ENDS


CID IS THE UMBRELLA ORGANISATION THAT REPRESENTS 73 NZ BASED AID AND DEVELOPMENT AGENCIES

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