Hon Phil Goff: Can the Minister confirm that the increase in development assistance in the Budget last year—21 percent—gave us, in fact, the highest-ever level of official development assistance in this country’s history?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: That is indeed true. We have moved from 0.22 percent to 0.27 percent—and, indeed, next year it is due to reach 0.28 percent—of GDP.
Unfortunately for Cullen, it is demonstrably not true (at least, not in the percentage-of-GDP/GNI terms he is discussing it in). Here's a graph of New Zealand's level of official development assistance expressed as a percentage of GNI.
(Source: here [PDF])
Neither is his previous claim that our aid levels are "almost exactly the weighted average for the OECD countries that give aid". According to the OECD [PDF], the "average country effort" for all OECD donors is 0.47 percent of GNI. Our aid levels are therefore not just significantly below the targets we have agreed to meet, but also below the OECD average. But to be fair, Cullen did say "weighted average"; unfortunately he didn't specify how the figures were weighted, and allow us to determine whether it was relevant, or just a way of making the figures look better.
Is it really too much to ask that the government doesn't respond to criticism with outright lies?