National MP Murray McCully examines some of the $369 million this country wasted on “foreign aid” last year.
From McCully & Co
New Zealand taxpayers will be delighted to hear that last year’s $369 million purchased, for example, a programme to promote gender equity in the greater Mekong Region. Another far-sighted and highly relevant initiative involved “poverty elimination” amongst indigenous people in rural Nicaragua. And Nicaragua, we assume, was identified for sentimental reasons, as the venue at which the majority of the Cabinet will have attended Socialist International Conferences during their formative political years.
Last year’s $369 million also purchased, on behalf of New Zealand taxpayers, “poverty elimination” programmes in the western states of China. Mr Peters and his colleagues appear not to have paused to consider the significant irony of pumping New Zealand aid money into China, which in turn is pumping its own aid money, in increasingly lavish doses, into the Pacific.
And if you really want to get Mr Peters looking prickly and defensive, just ask him about the $500,000 cheque he authorised to be spent in the Palestinian Authority in March last year soon after Hamas had won the national elections. Yes, that would be the same Hamas that was still promising to wipe out Israel and threatening to use violent means to achieve this objective.
Murray McCully is right to criticise such programmes, but the real story here is who directs this money to such dubious uses and why?
One person who deserves some scrutiny is Don Clarke.
I have already covered Clarke’s long term links with Maoism and the former Workers Communist League here.
It is interesting that McCully singled out projects in China, Nicaragua, Vietnam, and Palestine as all were major focuses of Workers Communist League activity. Clarke himself has some affinity with several of those areas.
In the early “70s, Maoist students controlled NZUSA and oganised several student delegations to China. In April 1975 it was agreed at an NZUSA meeting that Dunedin CORSO activist, Don Clarke, would be chairman of the 1975 China trip selection panel. Several of these delegates went on to join the WCL.
Nicaragua became a big focus for the WCL in the ’80s. Several WCL members travelled there, many with “coffee picking” brigades.
Don Clarke was a member of the first NZ brigade to Nicaragua in 1986/87.
In March 1990, Clarke, representing the “Nicaragua Must Survive Campaign” wrote a full page article for the Workers Communist League’s “Unity” newspaper on the recent electoral defeat of the Sandinista government.
Vietnam became a big focus for the WCL in the late ’80s. Several WCL supporters were involved in the Vietnam Action Information Network.
Clarke was a spokesman for VAIN and its descendants from 1990 to at least 1994.
My recent post on the Wellington Palestine Group shows that Clarke’s WCL friends also maintained a long interest in Palestinian affairs.
Should it be a matter of concern that a life long socialist activist, almost certainly a former member of NZ’s most influential Maoist sect, the WCL, should now be in such an influential position?
Don Clarke’s agency is sending hundreds of millions of your dollars to countries, many of which he has shown past ideological sympathy for. That is no crime, but at least some of that money seems to be ending up with some very dodgy organisations.
Are there some obvious questions here?