Sure the Australian minister for International Development, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells’ comments regarding China’s aid money and some loans going towards “useless buildings and roads going to nowhere” were certainly very upfront and in some cases might be correct. But surely it is China’s right to spend their aid money where they see fit. After all, it’s their money.
Also it should be noted that these comments came from an Australian minister and not a New Zealand minister.
China can and does construct good buildings that can last for several hundreds of years. However, they are unfamiliar with the corrosion that is caused by our climatic conditions and they were strangely slow to pick up on this.
Chinese aid could be better spent with passing on their vast knowledge on things like fishing, and more particularly the growing of tropical fruit and veges.
Hainan Island in the very south of China have conditions very similar to ours and these regions supply millions of Chinese people with their fruit and vegetable requirements. Our government is trying to reduce the amount of imported fruit and veges and there are plenty of local growers ready to step up and take advantage of the growing domestic market which is currently being driven by increased tourist numbers. The good thing is this should cost the Chinese very little, but would be great for their public relations.
It should be noted that the major benefits of our close association with New Zealand do not come from aid money, but from the value of us having the New Zealand passport, which allows us to travel to most parts of the world with relative ease.
Look at the number of young Cook Island men who have gone to work in the mines in Australia and earn thousands of dollars - as much as $6,000 a week. Without the New Zealand passport this would not be possible.
Every Samoan, Tongan and Fijian man would love to have this opportunity but they don’t have the New Zealand passport. You can compare our standard of living with these three countries and you will find there is no comparison.
We should ensure that into the future our right to this New Zealand passport is never jeopardised by misplaced personal agendas.
Another thing is that if we get sick, we get priority treatment at New Zealand hospitals.
It seems likely that this new New Zealand government will want to resolve long outstanding issues like pensions and deal even more closely with us, which we should encourage.