PM's Presser: Mainstream NZ, Sport & Israeli Spies
Mainstream NZ, Sport & Israeli Spies
By Kevin List - Scoop Media chief reporter.
A civil unionist celebrates Mayday. He is not part of the mainstream according to National Party Leader Don Brash.
“To me any decent hard working, law abiding Kiwi is mainstream. Those are the only criteria I’d apply,” explained the Prime Minister when questioned at the post cabinet press conference about statements National Party Leader Don Brash had made on National Radio earlier today.
During the National Party’s weekend conference Dr Brash had stressed that his party represented mainstream New Zealanders' aspirations. On Morning Report, Sean Plunket questioned Dr Brash about which New Zealanders fell outside the scope of Dr Brash’s vision. Mr Plunket asked Dr Brash this question:
“You talked about civil unions - does that mean you do not regard gay people as mainstream New Zealanders?”
Dr Brash replied “Well they are clearly not - they are a small minority of New Zealanders.”
Dr Brash then outlined how he had made it clear during the debate on civil unions that the legislation should have been dealt with by a referendum.
“It [the Civil Union Bill] is a big change to the civil institutions of society,” Dr Brash told Sean Plunket.
Dr Brash then explained that if there had been a referendum on the Civil Union Bill he would have voted in favour of Civil Unions. As it was Dr Brash voted for the Civil Union Bill in its early stages and then against it during its final passages through the House.
Later in the interview, Dr Brash appeared to backtrack somewhat from his initial statements when he stated that, in his opinion, some gay people could also be part of mainstream New Zealand.
NZ's Black Caps, in a spot of bother over Zimbabwe
The Prime Minister explained that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phil Goff had the full backing of Cabinet for his moves to avert the New Zealand cricket team's upcoming tour of Zimbabwe. Mr Goff is currently in the process of writing to the International Cricket Council (ICC) regarding the tour.
New Zealand would not be going so far as to withhold visas from the New Zealand cricketers or prevent them from leaving New Zealand. The Government had however instituted moves to deny members of the Zimbabwean Cricket team visas for their tour of New Zealand late this year.
“Paul Swain has been asked to look at the mechanisms for denying visas to the Zimbabwean cricket team for their tour of New Zealand late this year,” explained the Prime Minister.
Mr Goff has also been consulting with his Australian and British counterparts, Alexander Downer and Jack Straw regarding strategies for averting the upcoming tour. Both men were sympathetic to New Zealand’s concerns according to the Prime Minister
The Prime Minister was worried that should the tour go ahead – it could be used seen by President Mugabe as a PR coup.
“The problem with such a tour is that a leader like that [Robert Mugabe] is also the patron of the Zimbabwe Cricket Association and he can claim some credit for it,” she said.
Should the New Zealand Cricket tour go ahead, as currently planned, it is understood the players and tour management would implement the same procedure as the English Cricket team on their recent tour where they avoided all contact with Mr Mugabe.
The Prime Minister stated that the Government would not be paying any fine that would result should New Zealand not tour Zimbabwe. She pointed out that New Zealand cricket was in, “a very difficult position”.
As well as the possibility of being fined millions of dollars, a failure by the New Zealand team to tour Zimbabwe could also result in New Zealand itself facing a boycott from other cricket playing nations. The English Cricket Board’s Communications Manager John Read explained the harsh penalties that exist should a team decide to abandon a tour for a reason such as ‘moral grounds’ in a cricinfo article from April 2004.
"At a recent meeting of the International Cricket Council in Auckland it was decided not only to fine a country up to £1.1million, but also to suspend that country from international cricket for up to a year," he added. "Since 90 per cent of our revenue comes from international cricket, if we were banned for a year that would amount to something in excess of £50m. It would have a devastating effect on the game in this country."
FLASHBACK: PM's Views On Israeli Spy Case
The Prime Minister appeared pleased that a belated apology had finally arrived from the Government of Israel concerning the actions of two of its citizens who were convicted of passport fraud over a year ago.
“No country apologises for the actions of any two ordinary citizens who are caught up in fraud in that country. There has to be a reason to apologise. We believe there was a very good reason for that apology,” said the Prime Minister.
In the Prime Minister’s view the apology confirmed the Government’s belief that the Israeli citizens were in fact involved with Israel’s intelligence agencies although she would not be specific as to whether considered they were members of Mossad.
“We have never used that particular word [Mossad] or agencies name. From the outset we have said that we believe that the two men were associated with Israeli intelligence agencies,” she said.
There had been a very thorough trawl of the New Zealand passport system and the Prime Minister warned any foreign intelligence agencies looking to take liberties with New Zealand’s passports that “they would be very unwise to use them.”
A New Zealand citizen who the Government considered had participated in the passport fraud was now the subject of an international arrest warrant. Interpol had been advised of the details concerning the man.