NZADDs Press Release
The recently appointed panel to determine how grassroots aid funding will be spent is being criticised as poorly qualified and politically driven.
Criticism of the three-member panel comes from a newly formed international development think-tank called NZ Aid and Development Dialogues (NZADDS). Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully scrapped the previous funding mechanism for New Zealand-based NGOs working in international development in April 2010.
“It is ironic that the Minister scrapped a transparent, well-functioning scheme, saying he would put in place a programme with clear objectives and transparent administration. Instead, we now have three people making decisions as to how over $20 million in aid funding a year will be spent, but they have no understanding of how NGOs work with poor communities, or how to best measure this work,” said NZADDs spokesperson Jo Spratt.
“Far from putting in place a new scheme that provides clarity and transparency, the new Sustainable Development Fund for NGOs’ programmes in developing countries has caused great confusion. We have already observed obscure funding decisions and there has been disruption to NGOs’ work with very poor communities overseas,” she added.
The panel members are National Party MP John Hayes, a National Party lawyer, Peter Kiely, and the for Rugby New Zealand 2011, the Chief Operating Officer for Rugby NZ 2011 Limited, Therese Walshe. None has worked in international development programmes but they certainly all appear to be closely associated with the Minister.
“These appointments are the latest strike in the continuing destruction of what was previously a world-class, fair and open funding scheme for NZ-based Non-Government Organisations working to assist poor communities in developing countries,” said Ms Spratt.
“This funding scheme exists so that New Zealand organisations can work with poor communities in difficult circumstances to expand their economic opportunities and to improve health and education. It requires open and clear decisions that are made by professionals who understand the complexities of international development. The members on the selection panel, while qualified in their own areas, are not experienced development practitioners and they are at risk of simply carrying out the Minister’s demands. It is essential that New Zealand remains transparent in its aid spending, and these appointments are not contributing to such transparency,” said Ms Spratt.
About the External Selection Panel Members
Member of Parliament, John Hayes, is the Chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee and Associate Minister for Foreign Affairs. He has a long history as a diplomat, working across the world, including in the Pacific. Mr. Hayes was a key player in the resolution of the Bougainville crisis. Experience as a diplomat is quite different from working in international development. Diplomacy works to progress your country’s interests overseas, including in the area of trade: it is this experience Mr Hayes will bring to the new fund.
Peter Kiely is an Auckland-based lawyer who has long-standing ties with business organisations throughout the Pacific. He was a founding member of the Papua New Guinea New Zealand Business Council, an active member of the Fiji New Zealand Business Council and the French New Zealand Business Council. He is on the Board of Pacific Forum Line, is Director of Air Terminal Services in Tonga and is on the University of Auckland Council. Mr Keily was on the NZ aid programme advisory committee for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade from 1996 to 2001. He is a member of the Board of the Pacific Development and Conservation Trust. He is Chair of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation.
Therese Walshe is the Chief Operating Officer for Rugby New Zealand 2011 Ltd, Therese was involved in the successful NZ bid to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Therese has worked with KPMG in the past and in 2006 was a National Finalist for the NZIM/Eagle Technologies Young Executive of the Year Award. Therese has previously been on the Board of Save the Children NZ and a mentor for the First Foundation.