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Questions need asking over aid cash

Maryan Street
Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

26 August 2011

Questions need asking over aid cash

The Prime Minister needs to explain why New Zealand has committed millions of dollars in aid to Libya, says Opposition Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Maryan Street.

“Earlier this week Mr Key gushed that we would be sending millions of dollars in aid to Libya, yet he failed to say why we would choose to do that or which part of the aid budget the money would come from.

“There are all sorts of questions he needs to answer. Our aid priority has been the Pacific and Labour has supported that. Does this latest commitment mean that the currently reducing aid budget is now to be diverted away from our needy neighbours and put into a North African country which has billions in frozen reserves? Why?

“Five weeks ago Murray McCully promised $2 million to feed drought-stricken people in the Horn of Africa. Today we have aid agencies asking where that money is. Why is the Prime Minister offering millions to an oil-rich country when millions of people are starving?

“Libya will undoubtedly need support from the international community as it moves forward with the newly recognised National Transitional Council but money is not its immediate concern. The United Nations has only just considered lifting the freeze on Libyan funds and when that happens, the new Libya will not want for resources. Why has John Key sent our Ambassador in Egypt to meet with rebels in Benghazi ahead of the UN Security Council’s consideration of the matter?

“Why is this suddenly a priority for the Prime Minister? Did his Foreign Minister know he was going to announce this aid grant?

“I would be delighted if we offered some assistance to the National Transitional Council as they start to forge new democratic structures, founded on a stable rule of law, but to offer ‘millions’ ahead of a careful consideration of what is actually required in Libya seems odd and ill-informed, to say the least.

“I would also be delighted if the Prime Minister could answer my questions,” Maryan Street said.

ENDS

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