Under National, New Zealand’s international development aid has lurched to the right. Our Government’s overseas aid agency NZAID was dissolved back into the foreign ministry, and Foreign Minister Murray McCully has made economic development the goal rather than it being a means to achieve poverty reduction. He is re-focusing the aid programme around economic development and can hardly conceal his contempt for the UN Millenium Development Goals.
So it was mildly amusing to see Mr McCully and Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd speak at a joint press conference today after their meeting in Canberra. Mr McCully said they spent “a lot of time talking about our joint and shared responsibilities within this region”. And “…because we’re the dominant providers of development assistance within the region, that means we have to set the pace and set the example.”
In answer to a question from an Australian journalist Mr Rudd explained Australia’s policy on aid which to be fair is mainstream among most OECD countries. It’s just quite a long way from the current New Zealand policy:
Remember our organising principle here is reducing poverty. That is the organising principle of the Millennium Development Goals, reducing poverty by effective investment in primary healthcare, effective investment in universal primary education and effective investment in the basic levels of governance and infrastructure necessary for growth to occur.
I think the choking sound in the background must have been Mr McCully.