22 Feb 2012

Pacific Forum labelled a drain on region in leaked NZ government email

3:50 pm on 22 February 2012

A former New Zealand diplomat who is now a government MP has told Foreign Minister Murray McCully he is right to think New Zealand gets precious little for the tens of millions of dollars in aid it spends in the Pacific.

The New Zealand Herald newspaper reports these comments are part of a private email from John Hayes to the minister which have been leaked to the TV3 network.

Mr Hayes, who is a former high commissioner to Papua New Guinea and now parliamentary assistant to Mr McCully, says the Pacific Islands Forum, which is presently chaired by New Zealand, is too big a drain on the resources of the region.

And he says a meeting of the Secretariat of Pacific Community he was at in Noumea cost over 200,000 US dollars but yielded almost no results.

Mr Hayes says a person that the New Zealand government had helped get to Noumea gave a 12-minute presentation.

He also says it is odd that New Zealand has seven staff in Papua New Guinea running a more than 23 million US dollar aid programme, but no trade commissioner in a market that offers a huge commercial opportunity.

Contacted by Radio New Zealand International, Mr Hayes declined to comment.