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Aussies beat Kiwi Government scrooges

MEDIA STATEMENT 27 April 2006

Aussies beat Kiwi Government scrooges

New Zealand is being beaten once again by Australia. This time it’s over meeting international aid obligations.

The Council for International Development is calling on the New Zealand government to follow Australia’s lead and double the amount it gives in aid to poor countries.

Yesterday’s announcement by the Australian Federal Government sets a timetable to double aid funding to about $4-billion a year by 2010.

Council for International Development Deputy Chairman, Barry Coates says this means Australia will be able to do far more than New Zealand to support poor countries – particularly in the Pacific region.

On current trends it means that Australia’s aid budget will increase to 0.36 percent of gross national income by 2010 while New Zealand gives just 0.27 percent of its national income in aid and has set no timetable to significantly increase aid.

Mr Coates says that despite agreeing to do its share to reduce extreme poverty, the New Zealand government has continued to languish behind most of the OECD in its level of aid.

“Putting it bluntly, we are one of the meanest developed countries in the world when it comes to giving aid to poor countries,” Mr Coates says.

Now even Australia, which has also been criticised in the past for its low level of support, is apparently making an effort to move towards meeting its international obligations. This will leave New Zealand increasingly isolated as one of a very small group of countries dragging its heels over international aid.

“This is a time when countries around the world are recognising the historic opportunity to lift millions out of poverty through achieving the UN-agreed Millennium Development Goals. Australia is now taking a modest step forward to increase its aid. The OECD predicts that the level of New Zealand’s aid will be the third lowest of 22 OECD countries by 2010. This is unacceptable to Kiwis who care about global poverty.”

At the UN, developed countries have agreed to give 0.7 percent of GNI in overseas aid by 2015. However, with less than ten years to go, the New Zealand Government has continued to ignore calls for it to set a timetable to achieve the 0.7 percent target. There is even some doubt as to whether it will live up to the Labour Party’s election promises of achieving half of that level, 0.35 percent, by 2010.

“Surely the New Zealand Government does not want to be left looking increasingly isolated in its meanness on aid.”

ENDS

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