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Pacific News Minute: Australia and New Zealand Increase Aid to the Pacific

JJ Harrison
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

The governments of both Australia and New Zealand announced increases in aid to the Pacific. Boosts seen at least in part as responses to China’s growing influence. We have details from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Most of Australia’s increase will be absorbed by projects directly or indirectly designed to counter China. The biggest is the undersea cable that will deliver high speed internet to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

The Australian cable displaces a project developed by the Chinese giant Huawei, which raised security concerns in Canberra. Australia will also establish a new Australia Pacific Security College, to train leaders from around the Pacific in security, intelligence and law enforcement.

Australia’s increase represents a larger share of a 3.1-billion-dollar foreign aid budget that’s unchanged overall. Last month, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, pointed to an opinion poll that showed 80-percent of Australians opposed to any increase in foreign aid. 

By contrast, New Zealand expanded its foreign aid budget by 30-percent – 500 million dollars – over the next four years.

Credit Midnighttonight / Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Bowen House, New Zealand's Parliament

A big part of those funds will go to climate adaptation. Foreign Minister Winston Peters said that climate resistance projects help “protect Pacific homelands and cultures, and reduce migration challenges” in the future. 

New Zealand’s Foreign Aid Budget took deep cuts under the previous conservative government. And even with this increase, New Zealand’s contributions still stand well below international averages.

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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