I've been watching with concern as the pressure created by acting as Australia's gulag guards has undermined Nauru's democracy. The destruction of judicial independence, the erosion of free speech and the right to protest, the suspension of opposition MPs and now their effective detention through the cancellation of their passports all show a clear trend away from democratic norms, driven by a desire by the Nauruan regime to avoid criticism and challenge over detention and corruption. And New Zealand is helping to pay for all of this - New Zealand aid money helps fund Nauru's yes-courts and the police who beat protesters and the prisons their opponents are stuck in. But that might be about to stop:
Foreign Minister Murray McCully has sought a meeting with the Nauru Government and indicated New Zealand's $2.3 million annual aid funding is under review because of growing concern about civil rights abuses.Good. Because if Nauru is going to behave like a dictatorship, they can fucking well pay for it themselves. The only money we should be giving them now is money for new elections.
A group of prominent legal university academics released an open letter to Mr McCully, in which they urge him to take a "more forceful approach" to Nauru and withdraw New Zealand aid funding for Nauru's justice department if the Nauru Government did not respond.
In a statement in response to the letter, Mr McCully said he had asked representatives of the Nauru Government for a meeting in Sydney next week.
"We take our responsibilities as a donor to the justice sector seriously, and we will be discussing our contribution with the Nauru government in light of recent events." New Zealand gives $2.3 million a year in aid to the justice and education sectors in Nauru. Of that $1.2 million goes toward funding its justice department.