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Tuesday, April 20

McCully’s backroom aid meddling could hurt frontline efforts

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully’s political interference with independent aid agencies could have disastrous consequences for those working on the front lines, Green Party MP Kennedy Graham said today.

Mr McCully has sent a letter to non-governmental agencies (NGOs) working with two aid funds worth around $26 million telling them that an overhaul of these funds is underway. 

Aid agencies such as Catholic agency Caritas have expressed concern that lives could be endangered by any funding cuts that may eventuate following Mr McCully’s letter.

“The Green Party is concerned that respected aid organisations such as Caritas could see their funding jeopardised by Mr McCully’s decisions,” said the Green Party’s Overseas Development spokesperson Dr Graham.

In his letter to the NGO sector, Mr McCully pointed out that aid programmes were out of step with the Government's goal of driving economic development in the Pacific region.

“Aid programmes in their current format offer a lifeline to many of the poorest people in the Pacific,” said Dr Graham.

“The goal of driving economic development should not mean that aid programmes developed over many years are cancelled.
“Mr McCully seems unable to discern the respective merits of sustainable development from material economic growth.

“In recent comments made to the media the Minister’s personal antipathy to some aspects of the work done by NGOs seems to be driving the current aid overhaul. This promises disaster for the aid effort in the Pacific,” said Dr Graham.

“When dealing with funds that transform and save lives, the Minister needs to take a deep breath and not let his personal antagonism cloud his judgment on foreign aid.”