Cabinet must be generous with tsunami aid

The Greens are urging the Cabinet to be generous when it decides tomorrow on what extra aid to give to tsunami victims.

“New Zealanders have emptied their pockets for the tsunami victims and expect their government to dig deep too,” said Keith Locke, Green Overseas Development Assistance Spokesperson.

“The Government has been running big surpluses and can afford a big contribution.

“Currently, our overseas aid expenditure is a pitiful 0.24 percent of Gross National Income. It is rumoured that the Cabinet will decide tomorrow to give an extra $20 million a year for tsunami relief, but that would only marginally increase our total overseas aid, to 0.26% of GNI. We can do much better than that.

“In its five years in office, the government acted as if there were no votes in overseas aid, letting the level stagnate around 0.24% of GNI, against a world standard of 0.7%. Despite pressure from the Greens and the New Zealand aid community, the Government has refused to adopt any programme whatsoever to get the aid level up to 0.7 percent by 2015, the target date adopted at the Millennium Summit.

“The wonderful public response to tsunami appeals shows that New Zealanders do have great compassion for their brothers and sisters overseas, and would support our government meeting its aid obligations.”