Budget 2022

Hi and welcome to another NZADDs update,

Once a year, every year, late at night, I start howling.

Don’t worry, it’s not lycanthropy. My problem is much more prosaic: I try to keep track of the New Zealand aid budget.

New Zealand aid transparency is improving. In between MFAT’s intermittently updated website, and its annual reports, you can – some time after the fact – cobble together a sense of what’s going on. (You can also use OECD reporting, but only after a long lag.) There’s nothing as user friendly as Australia’s “Greenbooks” of historical data. Nor is there anything as timely as Australia’s budget night aid releases.

Hence the howling. When our budget is actually released each year, working out the barest of basics of what’s changing in New Zealand aid requires devoting an evening to augmenting this spreadsheet with numbers buried places like page 90 of this PDF. Even then it’s imperfect. I have, for example, had to keep aid to Cook Islands in the totals. The government still calls the money it gives the Cooks ODA (I think about $50M a year), even though Cook Islands is no longer an ODA eligible country. Conversely, we may give some aid outside of Vote Foreign Affairs, but I can’t find it in budget documents. So I may be missing some aid spending. The big picture is correct enough though.

And here’s the big picture:

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China’s “base” in Solomon Islands, and what it says about us

Hi and welcome to another NZADDs update,

As you may have noticed, China has signed a security agreement with Solomon Islands. This has entailed frantic commentary from Australian and New Zealand pundits. It has drawn heated political debate in Australia, as well as comments from NZ politicians. Our politicians haven’t been as strident, but their statements have still tended to miss the mark.

Over the weekend I published a post on Devpolicy correcting errors regarding the China agreement, and explaining why our current approach to geopolitics in the Pacific is likely to harm both the region, and our own interests.

Also, if you’re interested in views from people in Solomons, please have a read of these three Op-Eds from: Transform Aqorau, Tarcisius Kabutaulaka and Derek Futaiasi.