Agreeing with Norway

The PM likes those Norwegians. Last Monday, she quipped at her post-Cabinet press conference: “Norway is a country with which we agree on almost everything – except whaling.”

At this afternoon’s presser, she riffed: “It’s fair to say that whaling and agricultural exports are two areas where New Zealand and Norway would not see eye-to-eye.”

Well, straight off the bat, I can think of a third and a fourth thing the PM and Norway don’t see eye-to-eye on: uni tuition fees and overseas development aid.

Tuition fees. In Norway, university students pay no tuition fees. That’s right. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Here, students pay an average of about $3,700 a year, up from about $3,200 a year when Labour took office. That’s right. A $500 increase under Labour. Well done, chaps.

Overseas development aid (ODA). The Norwegians are a million (well, four) times more generous than we are in doling out foreign aid. They’ve already lived up to their international obligation to spend at least 0.7 percent of Gross National Income on ODA by 2015. Meanwhile, we’re failing miserably in that goal’s pursuit. Norway spends 0.92 percent of its GNI on ODA. We spend 0.23 percent, down from 0.27 percent when Labour took office. Again, well done, chaps.

To be fair, it could well be that Labour does agree with Norway on these issues, but hasn’t got around to formulating and implementing policies to that effect. Luckily for them, help is on the way. Nandor and Keith have encouraging words which would move us in the Norwegian direction (see here and here).