December Update: ongoing Australian Aid Confusion, Economists Trading Blows and Bonus End of Year Lunacy

Some bits and pieces to end the year:

Australian Aid
In Canberra, aid uncertainty continues apace. The aid program is gone, and cuts to funding have been flagged, yet where these cuts might fall (and even their magnitude) is anyone’s guess. As Always, the Development Policy Centre’s blog is the best source of news, with Robin Davies’s posts being particularly well informed.

The Development Policy Centre has also just released the results of its Australian Aid Stakeholder Survey. The survey is based on the perspectives of the people who interact with the aid programme on a regular basis, and there is a tonne of useful and interesting information buried within it. It would be great to replicate the endeavour in New Zealand — if you are interested in helping us do that please let us know.

Commitment to Development 2013

On the subject of reports, the Centre for Global Development’s 2013 Commitment to Development Index has been released. New Zealand ranks 9th, although this stems from our trade and security policies, not aid (a sub-category on which we rank 15th).

Roger Riddell Speaking the the Dev-Policy Centre’s Aid Workshop
On the subject of the Development Policy Centre, they have confirmed that Roger Riddell (who has literally written the book on aid) will be the keynote speaker at their Australasian Aid and International Development Policy Workshop (in Canberra February 13 and 14). The programme for the event will be available here from Friday; you can register for the event here.

Economists Trade Trade Blows
In the last NZADDs update we explained some of the issues associated with the so-called ‘Trans Pacific Aid Partnership’ trade agreement. Recently, there has been some interesting on-line debate on the TPP amongst US-based political economists on this. Debate starting with Paul Krugman (who is famous, among many other things, for his contribution to trade theory) arguing that the TPP was a distraction, unlikely to lead to either major benefits or major harm. And followed by responses from Dean Baker and Henry Farrell. Farrell’s response is worth a read in particular because it links to some interesting looking academic research on the TPP.

A Brief History of Aid
If you are looking for some holiday podcast listening, the ABC’s Rear Vision show has just produced an excellent podcast on the history of aid, which is well worth a listen. Next week on Monday next week they will have a follow up focusing on Australian Aid.

A Brief History of the Year for NZADDs
As for us — while we aren’t required to provide an annual report, as aid-transparency nerds we couldn’t resist. Although mercifully we can be short. Our time has been spent on two main activities this year, the first being the publication of the ‘Show Me the Money’ report on New Zealand aid flows, in collaboration with the Development Policy Centre. We hope to do it again in 2015 so keep your feedback coming. Our second major undertaking was the September Aid Forum ‘Looking Forward: NZ Aid Beyond 2015’, in collaboration with CID and the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies (audio of the keynote talk here; RNZI report here). We had a great turn-out at the forum and received positive feedback. Parliamentarians John Hayes and Maryan Street also hosted an evening round table with the forum keynote speaker, Professor Howes. Financially, NZADDs received $770 in donations this year. We spent $411.13 for the parliamentary round table. An additional $200 donation was made to contribute to the Aid Forum costs, the remainder of which were covered by the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies and CID. The Development Policy Centre kindly covered Professor Howes’ flight costs.

Moving On
The big New Zealand NGO news for the month is that Barry Coates has announced he will resign from his role at Oxfam to stand for the Green Party in the election next year. We know the development community will sorely miss having him in its midst. At the same time it would be excellent to have his voice in parliament, so we wish him the best of luck for the election.

And Just to Finish the Year off With Some Lunacy…
In the United States there’s Fox News reassuring anxious viewers that, factually speaking, Santa is white (we’ll leave it to Ontologists to explain how there can be facts about the skin colour of an imaginary entity). Meanwhile, here in Australia the government has appointed Tim Wilson as the new head of its Human Rights Commission. Wilson is the director of a right wing think tank — one which has, in the past, called for the abolition of the…wait for it…Human Rights Commission in the past. And Wilson himself still refuses to say whether he thinks the commission should be abolished or not.

It’s been a long year.

Have great holidays everyone.

Terence for the NZADDs admin division.