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Further to our earlier exposés of aid money being wasted on countries spending it on space programmes and the millions going to subsidiaries of the Clinton Foundation, we can now reveal that under the current Government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade has given $215,000 to North Korean aid projects, despite the despotic regime's efforts to develop delivery systems for nuclear weapons aimed at some of our closest allies.
Included in the aid were six tractor/trailer units to be used on a DPRK "NZ Friendship Farm" - i.e. equipment under the direct ownership and control of the despotic regime.
While North Korea wants to wipe Western nations off the face of the Earth, our Government has been diverting taxpayer money to business schemes owned and managed by the regime. It is inexcusable.
The Government can say all it likes to justify this spending, but the fact it stopped when Taxpayers' Union started asking questions on the issue, shows that it really is indefensible.
With news that the Clinton Foundation is laying off 22 staffers due to the discontinuation of the Clinton Global Initiative, we have revealed that the Australian Government is cutting all financial ties with the Clinton Global Health Initiative.
In 2014 Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced that the Australian Government had committed to five years of financial support for the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the sister organisation of the Clinton Foundation. By last year however, that funding had stopped, with the Australian Government jumping ship very soon after Donald Trump’s victory in the US election.
News.com.au reported late last year that:
AUSTRALIA has finally ceased pouring millions of dollars into accounts linked to Hillary Clinton’s charities.
Which might make you wonder: Why were we donating to them in the first place?
The federal government confirmed to news.com.au it has not renewed any of its partnerships with the scandal-plagued Clinton Foundation, effectively ending 10 years of taxpayer-funded contributions worth more than $88 million.
The Clinton Foundation has a rocky past. It was described as “a slush fund”, is still at the centre of an FBI investigation and was revealed to have spent more than $50 million on travel.
Despite that, the official website for the charity shows contributions from both AUSAID and the Commonwealth of Australia, each worth between $10 million and $25 million.
News.com.au approached the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for comment about how much was donated and why the Clinton Foundation was chosen as a recipient.
A DFAT spokeswoman said all funding is used “solely for agreed development projects” and Clinton charities have “a proven track record” in helping developing countries.
Australia jumping ship is part of a post-US election trend away from the former Secretary of State and presidential candidate’s fundraising ventures.
The news follows our petition launched last week calling on Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully to veto MFAT’s plans to give another $5.5 million of NZ Aid Money to the Clinton Health Access Initiative, an affiliate of the Clinton Foundation. The petition has attracted nearly two and half thousand signatures and can be signed at: http://www.taxpayers.org.nz/clinton_petition
NZ Aid should be going to programmes that are the most effective and efficient in achieving our aid objectives. Channelling money through entities established by international politicians is not a proven effective and efficient method of giving aid to those who most need it.
It is simply bad practice for MFAT to give Aid money to an entity so closely associated with politics and politicians. The money would be much better going straight to an organisation like the Red Cross.
The Australians have stopped - so why haven't we?
The Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that the Government has budgeted to give another $5.5 million dollars of taxpayers’ money to the controversial Clinton Foundation, despite Mrs Clinton’s failed US Presidential bid and controversy over improper ties between the Clinton Foundation, the State Department and donations from foreign governments to the foundation while Ms Clinton was US Secretary of State.
Figures obtained by the Taxpayers’ Union under the Official Information Act show that to date Kiwi taxpayers have forked out $7.7 million to the Clinton Foundation’s “Health Access Initiative” with $2.5 million and $3 million earmarked for 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Given the lessons of the Saudi Sheep saga, we are staggered that MFAT appear to still think handing out money for diplomatic purposes is sensible. Even worse, this money comes from the NZ Aid budget which should be going to programes which are the most effective at helping the world’s poor - not sidetracked into political objectives.
It is possible that officials have reason to believe that the Clinton Foundation’s work does provide good value for money, although given the controversy in the US that seems unlikely. The refusal to front up and explain leaves a stench of buying political access.
Given New Zealand’s faux pas in co-sponsoring the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel on Christmas Eve, and the heavy criticism of New Zealand which has resulted, the continued support of the Clinton Foundation risks even more damage to New Zealand’s ability to wield any influence in the US.
The MFAT response to the Taxpayers’ Union information referred to above is available here.
After a brouhaha on twitter and blogs running MFAT's spin about the “Health Access Initiative” being a "separate legal entity" from the Clinton Foundation, we've issued a press release clarifying the situtaiton:
MFAT EXCUSES RE CLINTON FOUNDATION 'NONSENSE ON STILTS'
The excuse justifying the millions of taxpayer dollars the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) will pay the Clinton Health Access Initiative that it is a “separate legal entity” to the Clinton Foundation is pathetic says the Taxpayers’ Union.
Earlier today the Taxpayers’ Union released a response to an Official Information Act request to MFAT which showed that in addition to the $7.7 million already paid, the Government has budgeted another $5.5 million of NZ Aid money for the Clinton Health Access Initiative.
Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union, Jordan Williams, says, “This excuse from MFAT is nonsense on stilts and they know it. The Clinton Health Access Initiative is a subsidiary of the Clinton Foundation and is responsible for appointing the board members."
“Government spin doctors can try to dance on the head of a pin to justify MFAT's actions, but the fact is the two entities are even described on their own websites as 'affiliated entities'. The Clinton Foundation controls the organisation Kiwi taxpayers are funding."
In September, the New York Times reported that the Initiative would be separated if Clinton won the US Presidential election. The relevant article is available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/15/us/politics/clinton-foundation-staff.html.
Also available is the most recent publicly available income tax return for the Clinton Health Access Initiative which discloses that the Clinton Foundation is a “Related tax-exempt organization” and appoints members of the board of the Clinton Health Access Initiative (refer to pages 73 to 75 of the document available at http://bit.ly/2jgeLOc).
Following feedback from a number of members and supporters who emailed or phoned our office, we have launched a petition calling on the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully to veto MFAT giving anymore NZ Aid money to the Clinton Initiative.
New Zealand taxpayers have forked out $9 million to pay for a four-day UN conference in Samoa that included hiring the luxury P&O Pacific Jewel cruise liner. New Zealand covered the accommodation and operating costs, of September’s Small Island Developing States.
We not aware of New Zealand taxpayers having ever chartered such a luxury cruise-liner. The ship is marketed as 'the world's largest adventure park at sea’ and includes a zip-line across the top deck, an outdoor circus performance arena and numerous movie theatres. Conference attendees had nine bars, pubs and nightclubs to choose from and seven restaurants and cafes to dine in.
It seems inconceivable that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade would think it a good use of taxpayers’ money to fund the chartering of a luxury cruise-liner for a conference in another country. It appears that MFAT brought in the liner so conference attendees could avoid the mainland.
$9 million is nearly half New Zealand’s annual aid budget to Samoa and amounts to $4,500 per attendee. The amount does not include the cost of attendees’ flights or travel (and presumably cocktails) which makes the $9 million amount all the more remarkable.
If the $9 million had been used for genuine economic development or investment, no one would complain. Instead taxpayers forked out for a conference which ‘achieved’ a document that ‘reaffirmed’, ‘acknowledged’, ‘recognised' and ‘recommitted’ to various bureaucratic platitudes.
Little of the money is likely to have gone into the local Samoan economy. The British-American owned company, P&O Cruises, appears to have been the main beneficiary.
Earlier in the year press releases were issued by Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully and the Ministry which pumped the value of the talk-fest. They failed to mention the fact that taxpayers were footing the bill at a cost of more than $2 million per day. It it a shameful misuse of public money and officials are no doubt praying that the Christmas rush allows them to avoid public vilification.
Last month 3 News reported that Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, was investigating ways to recoup costs to the taxpayer of providing assistance to Australian members of the Arctic 30:
“Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australian taxpayers were entitled to ask why they should be covering the cost of assisting Australian activist Colin Russell to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.
"It took a huge effort and a lot of money to get this guy out and the Australian taxpayer paid for it," Ms Bishop said yesterday.
"If it is a deliberate strategy designed to provoke a response and potentially to risk breaking the laws of another country, the question of cost recovery does arise."
But MFAT has ruled the option out.
"The ministry has no plans to charge Greenpeace for the consular assistance provided to the two New Zealand detainees from the Arctic 30," an MFAT spokesman said.
Why? This isn't a case of some New Zealand citizens accidentally ending up on the wrong side of the law in another country. It's been widely reported that the two New Zealanders travelled to the Arctic to protest against exploration of fossil fuels by deliberately break the law. Why shouldn't they (or Greenpease - the organisation that put them up to it) pay the costs of the required assistance?
While the Taxpayers’ Union can only speculate as to the extent of these individuals’ carbon footprint in journeying to the arctic, we can reveal the amount of support taxpayers’ doled out as a result of their protest.
In a response to an Official Information Act request lodged with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade reveal that they provided approximately 173 hours of support for the two wayward protestors.
While MFAT was unable to quantify how much this support has likely cost the taxpayer, we doubt that the specialist consular services from our diplomatic personnel both in New Zealand and Moscow would have been cheap.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade provides a great service to New Zealanders who have found themselves in difficult, often unforeseen circumstances while abroad. But should these resources be spent bailing out known political agitators at the taxpayers’ expense?
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