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PM's Presser: Beyer, Greig, Iraq, Israel & Nauru

PM's Presser: Beyer, Greig, Iraq, Israel & The Treaty

By Kevin List

The whiff of John Le Carre pervaded most of the Prime Minister’s Press Conference with allegations of spies, the potential that the New Zealand passport may have been violated by agents of Mossad, and the potential fallout from this alleged violation. In the interest of simplicity the ‘best’ potential diplomatic stoush since New Zealand said ‘No nukes thanks Ronald’ and collared some French ‘tourists’ has been allocated a story of its own. See… PM's Presser: ‘Fraud? + ‘ Israeli Spies? = Media Frenzy


Originally Wairarapa electorate MP Georgina Beyer was voting with the Government on the Foreshore and Seabed legislation. However, a couple of weeks ago Beyer had a ‘road to Damascus’change of heart and decided to align herself more closely with the position taken by her colleagues Tariana Turia and Nanaia Mahuta.

For many commentators this alignment was the reason behind the Government looking towards New Zealand First and its 13 MPs and the discarding of support from the smaller United Future party. The Prime Minister set the record straight.

‘No it had no impact on that – those that reported it did can’t count’.

Ms Beyer’s latest positioning was however welcomed: She was ‘pleased to be back to where we were about three weeks ago when she advised the caucus she would be supporting the bill’ and regarding the latest alignment, “I hope it’s the final position and I’m sure it is.”


Very recently New Zealand’s first Inspector-General, Laurie Greig resigned. The Inspector-General had been found by two high court judges to have shown apparent bias towards Algerian asylum seeker Ahmed Zaoui, whose case he was supposed to be reviewing. This followed remarks Greig had made to the Listener magazine, and – more significantly - an unfortunate set of circumstances that began with an early evening call from Director of Security, Richard Woods, to the then Inspector-General on December 9, 2003.

The Prime Minister intimated that this presumably well remunerated, until now part-time position, open to anyone ‘having held the status of being a high court judge’, may not be swamped with applicants.

‘No one phoned up saying this is a career opportunity not to be missed. But we will shoulder tap someone and whoever does it will do it with a sense of public duty but also with a sense of reluctance. The Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General are advising me on who would be prepared to do it.’

The Prime Minister also intimated that a new Inspector-General should be on board before the conclusion of the latest Court of Appeal case associated with the processes entailed in reviewing a security risk certificate (expected in May).

The location and servicing of the Office would were also under reconsideration. According to the Prime Minister this was no reflection on how the Office had been supported in the past.

Various potentially subversive sections of the population and media were also given a harsh verbal backhander for their role in scaring off retired High Court judges from overseeing the security services.

‘There are always those who connect public suspicion about the motives of the service, why they do, what they do. The Inspector-General who rules on whether the Service (SIS) or the GCSB acted properly is always going to be in the line of fire of those people.’

This may have been an inopportune time for a potentially subversive question regarding whether the Prime Minister had spoken to the Director of Security, Richard Woods, for telephoning the last Inspector-General, on December 9, in relation to an adverse media report.

‘I’m not going to give running commentaries about any discussions with the Director of Security.’


The PM, ‘hadn’t looked at it yet’.


In regard to recent statements from the newly elected Spanish (Prime Minister):

‘I think the present Spanish Government was elected on the premise that they would pull out - so it’s hardly surprising.’

So should New Zealand follow the Spanish example?

‘Whilst they [NZ Defence Force personnel] can do the job they should see out the full term of the deployment’.


‘One cannot see that it assists the peace settlement in any way to have targeted assassinations of Palestinian leaders, and on that basis the assassination should be condemned.’


Small Pacific nation Nauru has assisted it’s larger Pacific neighbours by providing phosphate leaving a hellish landscape and more recently by providing a ‘hellish’ detention camp for would be asylum seekers. Although Nauru received compensation for the desolation caused by phosphate mining, the country is now nearly bankrupt after a series of spectacularly incompetent investments made by its Government.

The Prime Minister was of the opinion that ‘Nauru was appropriately compensated’, and that, ‘their strong relationship is with Australia that is where they invest their money’. Presumably here she was referring to the money that wasn’t invested in huge West End flops.

When mention was made of small states like Nauru and the potential for ‘dodgy passports’, the Prime Minister was ready to defend New Zealand borders and passports. Although given the tenor of the press conference it was surprising Georgina Beyer’s return to the fold was not connected to a post September 11 climate.

‘Effective border control, and effective systems are part of counter terrorism efforts and certainly exposing a fraud like this I think is a reminder to the region of the need to run good systems.’ Which led to the main theme of the press conference.

(Report continues…)

For coverage of the Israeli Spy passport scandal see… PM's Presser: ‘Fraud? + ‘ Israeli Spies? = Media Frenzy

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