30 Oct 2008

NZ should do more to help improve Pacific living standards, says Green Party

5:13 pm on 30 October 2008

The Foreign Affairs spokesman for New Zealand's Green Party says the country must do more to help address shortcomings in living standards in Pacific countries.

Speaking about his party's foreign policy ahead of New Zealand's general election next week, Keith Locke says helping Pacific countries get on a firmer footing economically should be a priority for the next government.

The Green Party wants New Zealand to raise its present overall aid output level of 0.35% of gross national income to 0.7% - the accepted target of most developed countries - by the year 2015.

Most of that aid would be directed to developing Pacific island nations.

Mr Locke says assistance to the region is all the more important during a global recession.

"It will be a challenge in a recession for New Zealand to increase its aid level but I think we must do it because there's a huge gap between the standard of living in New Zealand that in many of the Pacific islands and we have to help address that."

Keith Locke