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Official Development Aid and “stand up for poverty”

  • October 17th, 2008

Just back from speaking in Civic Square at the invitation of the "Art of Living" people who organised "stand up against poverty" in favour of the Millenium Development Goals.

I honoured the organisers and the decent people who’d turned out to urge more for the poverty-stricken around the world.

It is easy to wonder how much these consciousness raising events achieve. But I’m glad people try to balance the self-centredness evident from those who ask me daily questions like  "how much are you offering to me that would make me vote for you".

Labour was represented by Charles Chauvel. He read out the organisers well framed pledge summary. The Wellington Labour candidates pledged to do their utmost to get NZ foreign aid up from its current $429m or around 0.3% of GDP to around $1bn or 0.7% by 2015.

During the past 9 years of the best terms of trade NZ has experienced in my lifetime Labour has lifted ODA a few hundredths of a percent to 0.3%. There must be doubt about today’s pledge. Why would they do better in more stringent times, especially as NZ Aid under their stewardship has earned administrative quality warnings  from the Auditor-General.

Keith Locke and Sue Kedgley were there for the Greens.Though the MDG includes a committment to "an open trading and financial system that is rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory" they used their speeches to pillory free trade as a cause of world hardship. They did not accept that NZ bio-fuel purchases would be part of the problem.

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