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Twyford: McCully Runs Aid By Whim And The Seat Of His Pants

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Phil Twyford
Phil Twyford

Foreign Minister Murray McCully is running New Zealand's half million dollar aid programme by whim and the seat of his pants, and is ignoring his officials, says Labour's associate foreign affairs spokesperson Phil Twyford.

"His claims today that he is reforming our aid to the Pacific are impossible to verify because he does not seem to rely on officials' written advice or independent evaluations of projects, and rarely puts his decisions in writing," Phil Twyford said.

"Everyone wants aid projects to be more effective, but normally you make such judgment on the basis of objective, written evaluation of whether a project is achieving its objectives. Not so Mr McCully, however.

"He doesn't seem interested in objective information. He appears to make decisions without recourse to detailed rationale, and then leaves it to unfortunate officials to deliver bad news, regardless of funding commitments or repercussions on our reputation as a consultative, reliable aid partner."

Phil Twyford said Mr McCully had just cancelled New Zealand's $500,000 a year commitment to a three-year regional disaster risk-reduction programme run by the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific, an organisation with a long, productive partnership with NZ aid programmes. "I am lodging a request under the Official Information for the independent evaluation of the programme's impact which justifies his decision."

Mr McCully has also just cut the $1.6 million a year funding for the Wellington-based Global Focus organisation that provides education resources on international development issues, and earlier this year NGO umbrella group, the Council for International Development, had funding gutted by 90% or $900,000.

"Did he rely on any kind of written analysis from officials about costs and benefits of these organisations or was he acting out his well-known hostility to NGOs? It is unfortunate he has referred to his own professional aid staff as 'desk jockeys who care only about the aid bureaucracy'. He shows his disdain for accountability, and his disregard for the hard work of his committed departmental staff.

"As the former head of an international development agency, and having worked alongside the United Nations, World Bank and major donor agencies, I am very aware of the need for accountability, professionalism and a commitment to results. Unfortunately Mr McCully prefers to run New Zealand's aid programme by the seat of his pants."

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