Overseas development funding

Murray McCully said on Morning Report this morning  that he wants to scrap the KOHA-PICD scheme and establish an alternative fund controlled by Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials (and the Minister). This new scheme would also have a different criteria because the KOHA-PICD scheme has “too much emphasis on union rights”.

I’ve got a particular interest in this because on of the charities that I donate to, UnionAID, is probably the one he has in mind when he disparagingly talks about “union rights projects in obscure parts of the world”.

I’m not sure that reducing domestic violence against Dalit women in Tamil Nadu by 15-25%, or ensuring that cremation workers from the lowest caste in India are paid a small monthly wage so they can afford to send their children to school are projects that should be abandoned just becasue they happen to be organised by union members.

Hopefully he will make his decision based on the value of the project rather than ill-considered judgements and stereotypes about the people who are running, fundraising or donating to that project?

Can I have one with a moat please?

Well, seems it’s not just Bill English rorting the system. The NZ Herald reports a number of Cabinet Ministers own residential property in Wellington, most of which are rented out, but choose to live in Ministerial homes.

I don’t begrudge Ministers the opportunity to move their families to Wellington so they can spend more time with them, and a small apartment may not provide adequately for that.

But renting out their own properties in Wellington, while the taxpayer is paying for the full cost of their Ministerial homes, is scamming it. Even though it is within the rules, surely Ministers should have exercised the restraint they are expect from the citizens they govern and offered to offset the rent they receive from their own properties against the costs of the Ministerial homes they occupy.

Here’s the list of those with their snouts in the trough:

Tim Groser: Ministerial Services paid $8937 January-June. Also owns $540,000 apartment in central Wellington, which is being used as an investment property.

Tariana Turia: Lives in a Ministerial home. Also own $520,000 property in Wellington suburb of Broadmeadows [surely that would be suitable for her family to live in]. Refuses to say if she rents it out.

Phil Heatley: Ministerial Services paid $24,607 January-June. Also owns $360,000 Wellington apartment that is being rented out.

Anne Tolley: Ministerial Services paid $22,045 January-June. Also owns $295,000 one-bedroom Wellington apartment, which is currently rented out.

Wayne Mapp: Ministerial Services paid $18,878 January-June. Also owns $285,000 Wellington apartment and rents it out.

Murray McCully: Ministerial Services paid $12,865 January-June. Owns a Wellington flat and rents it out.

Then, of course, there is Bill English, who is in a category of his own, receiving $23,673 from Ministerial Services between January and June this year to live with his wife and family in their own home.

Perhaps they should consider following this precedent – its not too late to pay back the money they have scammed.

Leave me alone – I’m trying to have a holiday

David Farrar at Kiwiblog also has a regular on-line column at the National Business Review. This week his NBR column is a purported SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis of the political parties in Parliament.

Among his suggested weakneses for National, he states: “Some new Ministers may prove to be easy targets for the Opposition.”

Now, there’s been quite a lot of activity on the Foreign Affairs front warranting a response from Foreign Minister Murray McCully over the last month. So lets have a look at some of the media comments (or lack thereof) emanating from the Dark Side:

Whaling: Government whaling spokesman Murray McCully said he had not seen the report detailing the proposal…

Whaling: But he says the overall objective needs to be to stop whaling altogether. Mr McCully says he is relaxed about debates on how to do that – but says there are no proposals on the table which New Zealand lends its support to.

Whaling: A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said he was awaiting ministerial advice before responding to the report.

Sea Shepherd: A spokesman for Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the Government would not comment publicly unless the ship intended to enter New Zealand.

Sea Shepherd: A government spokesman said that the Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, would be advised on the matter, as soon as a thorough assessment was completed.

Sri Lankan conflict: A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully told ONE News that New Zealand’s links to Sri Lanka are not strong enough to try to help resolve the conflict…

Israeli invasion of Gaza: Putting pressure on Israel alone to end the violence in Gaza will not stop the death toll rising, says Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.

Israeli invasion of Gaza: Amnesty says it is disappointed at recent comments by Foreign Minister Murray McCully and would welcome a stronger call to end the bloodshed there.

Israeli invasion of Gaza: The Government has taken a neutral stance. Since the conflict began, Foreign Minister Murray McCully has been urging both sides to agree to a ceasefire.

Israeli invasion of Gaza: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said that while deeply disappointed with Israel’s invasion, which has caused over 500 Palestinian deaths, it was “pointless” discussing whether it was overreaction.

Israeli invasion of Gaza: A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said New Zealand is not a significant player in Middle Eastern politics but the Government is doing all it can.

Israeli invasion of Gaza: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said the criticism from Mr Locke that the government had not released a press statement on the Gaza conflict was “pure sophistry”. “I have been available to every news media outlet in the country that has sought comment on the issue from the outset.

Fiji rules out elections: New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully would not comment on the issue.

Relations with Fiji: New Zealand foreign minister Murray McCully told Radio New Zealand the issue will be raised in Cabinet when it resumes later this month. He said it will be up to New Zealand’s Prime Minister to decide how to respond as the letter is addressed to him.

Israeli women ordered out of Southland café: Mr McCully told The Southland Times people had very strong views on the situation in the Middle East. “But it’s to be hoped that this sort of thing isn’t to be imported into New Zealand.” He would not answer further questions on the issue.

Israeli women ordered out of Southland café: Foreign Affairs minister Murray McCully did not return calls last night.

On the basis of this performance, I’m wondering if McCully was one of the Ministers who inspired David Farrar’s suggestion some of them could be easy targets. Let’s hope Murray’s holiday doesn’t last the full three year term.