Friday 10 Apr 2020 | 01:08 | SYDNEY
Friday 10 Apr 2020 | 01:08 | SYDNEY

New Zealand aid policy


Jenny Hayward-Jones


6 May 2009 16:50

New Zealand’s foreign minister, Murray McCully has announced an overhaul of New Zealand’s aid program. The key changes are a new mandate for NZAID — moving from poverty alleviation to a clear focus on sustainable economic growth in the Pacific Islands region — and the removal of NZAID’s semi-autonomous status within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, designed to improve the management and delivery of aid and to align aid with New Zealand’s wider foreign policy interests.

Following Australian Prime Minister Rudd’s criticism of Australian aid last week, McCully has been critical of New Zealand’s capacity to deliver real improvements to the lives of the Pacific Island recipients of its aid.

In this op-ed for the New Zealand Herald and this speech to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, McCully makes his case for spending more of the aid budget on the Pacific region and tracking the performance of aid against objective measures like trade and tourism statistics, income growth and improvements in health and education services. 

He declares an intention to get more aid to recipients and minimise spending on overheads of NGOs and bureaucracies. McCully also promises more support for the fledgling private sectors in the Pacific, 'through micro-financing schemes and initiatives that create opportunities for enterprise.' As this is something I argued in my policy brief on reforming aid last year and something PNG’s Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare has called for in the delivery of aid in his country, I support New Zealand’s ambitions.

Unlike Rudd, McCully has distanced himself from what he calls 'lofty rhetoric regarding the Millennium Development Goals' but his plans to make New Zealand’s aid program more effective and efficient are similar to the Australian government’s stated aims. 

Australia’s aid budget for the 2009-10 financial year will be announced next week. Australia-New Zealand aid coordination has been increasing in recent years; it would be constructive if both countries could accelerate and enhance that cooperation even further now for the good of our Pacific Island neighbours.