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PM's Presser: Zimbabwe, Maori MPs And Singapore

At yesterday's post Cabinet Press Conference Prime Minister Helen Clark said she believed comments made by the Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon on the Crisis in Zimbabwe were " not helpful". Chris Holm reports.

Earlier Secretary General Don McKinnon had made reference to the problems of ethnic violence in Zimbabwe as "not unusual" for Africa.

Miss Clark said she thought there was "nothing unusual" about the ethnic violence which occurred in other parts of the world too and believed Mr McKinnon's comments did nothing to help the situation.

Regarding leaked defence papers today which showed the Navy had asked for a further $440 million to upgrade the Orion jets, Miss Clark said she had not seen the papers but had read a Listener article regarding the issue.

She said the Government had not committed to any further spending on this area in the next budget.

On the dispute between Labour and Maori MPs over the auctioning off broadcasting frequencies Miss Clark said she was satisfied they had been properly consulted over the issue. She said the Government would continue to implement the legislation.

Labour's decision to Auction off the airwaves has left many Maori MPs in the Alliance and Labour unhappy.

Under the Labour proposal Maori are allowed first bidding option on the auction of the frequencies, however many Maori MPs are behind frequencies being set aside for Maori as part the fifty percent stake in resources under the Treaty of Waitangi.

Miss Clark said Alliance MP Willie Jackson who had spoken out against the decision had not attended all of the meetings and consultations with Maori groups. Listing the timing of the meetings Miss Clark indicated Mr Jackson spoke out after the decision had been publicly announced.

She said she believed Alliance Leader Jim Anderton had passed on a message of caution to Mr Jackson through the media which in effect said "not to stamp your feet every time you lose to Labour."

She also said Labour's legislation which gave Maori the first bidding option was superior to National's offer which gave Maori "nothing at all."

On the issue of trade with Singapore Miss Clark said she was currently "agnostic" about the negotiations to become a closer economic partner with the Asian republic.

Representatives had not signed the deal because there had "not been enough in it for New Zealand" and break through in services trade was needed before the deal could go ahead.


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