Green MP Keith Locke says the Government has got its priorities badly wrong, with dramatic budget boosts for intelligence agencies but just a miserly increase in overseas aid.
“If we want to be secure from terrorism we should first help reduced the gap between rich and poor countries,” said Mr Locke, the Green Party’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson.
“The priority spending area should be on overseas aid, not more intelligence operatives. Yet New Zealand’s aid budget is miserly, rising this coming year from 0.23 per cent of Gross National Income to just 0.24 per cent. The agreed international standard is 0.7 per cent.
“By contrast the Security Intelligence Service and Government Communications Security Bureau budgets both went up by 28 per cent.
“Why do we need more spies? New Zealand is hardly bedevilled with terrorists. In fact, the only person arriving here with terrorist allegations against him, Ahmed Zaoui, has been fully cleared by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority.
“Extra spending on spooks might get brownie points in Washington, but New Zealand’s contribution should be help eliminate the poverty that breeds terrorists. And that means a much greater contribution to overseas aid,” said Mr Locke.