Greens support ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign

Green Party Overseas Aid Spokesperson Keith Locke will represent his party at the New Zealand launch of the ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign in Auckland tomorrow.

Oxfam, World Vision and Trade Aid are the coordinators of the New Zealand mobilisation for the first international ‘White Band Day’ tomorrow, with events planned for the main centres (see

campaign website

). Bob Geldof’s ‘Live 8′ concerts on Sunday are also part of this weekend’s push. Laura Beck, one of the Greens’ UK-based list candidates will be in the G8 march in Edinburgh.

“Like many other New Zealanders, myself and other Green Party MPs will be wearing white ‘Make Poverty History’ wristbands tomorrow to show our support for this great effort,” Mr Locke says.

“Living in a relatively rich nation we have a particular responsibility to help developing countries where poverty is rife. Around the world a child dies every three seconds through lack of food or proper sanitation. We have serious poverty in New Zealand, which the Green Party is addressing, but it is nothing like the poverty in many other countries.

“Many New Zealanders will be watching ‘Live 8’ on the TV over the weekend and will support the message of ending poverty, but our Government is letting us down. New Zealand’s aid budget is only 0.27 percent of our Gross National Income, scheduled to rise to 0.28 percent in 2007. The UN goal for the OECD countries is 0.7 percent of GNI, with the European Union having committed to getting to 0.56 percent by 2010 and 0.7 percent by 2015.

“The pressure is going on the richer countries to come to the aid party and to cancel the debts of the poorer countries. The G8 countries, supported by a small contribution from New Zealand, are now going to cancel the poorest countries’ debts to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

“However, there is a sting in the tail – the same G8 statement that announced the debt relief also insisted that developing countries had to ‘boost private sector development’ and eliminate ‘impediments’ to foreign investment. Forcing poorer countries to hock off their assets to foreign bidders does nothing for development,” Mr Locke says.