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PM spends $20m shopping in Niue

Hon. Lockwood Smith - National Party Foreign Affairs Spokesman

1 November 2004

PM spends $20m shopping in Niue

Helen Clark's pledge of an extra $20 million in aid to Niue is a cynical bid to buy the votes of Niueans in New Zealand, says National's Foreign Affairs spokesman, Lockwood Smith.

The extra $20 million will be given over five years, meaning the New Zealand taxpayer will subsidise each of the 1300 people living on the island to the tune of about $9600 a year.

"This is nothing more than an election ploy by the Prime Minister to buy the votes of the 20,000 Niueans in New Zealand, all of whom can vote in our elections," Dr Smith says.

"We already give them $8 million a year - about half of their total revenue - and have pledged $6 million to re-build their hospital. This aid is on top of that, and taxpayers should really be questioning the timing of it.

"It is important that we continue to support Niue so they can improve their skills and not just stand still. They must be helped to develop their ability to trade and build a tourism industry.

"But that support must be well-directed and not be part of the Prime Minister's election campaign spending.

"Regardless of that, Niue should not be getting one extra cent until it can sort out its land ownership issues so business development can happen. Without that the whole $20 million will be wasted," Dr Smith says.

"I also note that some of this money will be used to strengthen Niue's governance, but I would have thought they already had plenty of that - they have 20 members of Parliament representing just 1300 people.

"Helen Clark is obviously happy to keep propping up that sort of largesse, but I doubt many New Zealand taxpayers would."

ENDS


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