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Prime Minister Rules Out Green Party Zimbabwe Plan

Prime Minister Rules Out Green Party Zimbabwe Plan

By Selwyn Manning - Scoop Co-Editor.

Scoop Report: Prime Minister Helen Clark this morning ruled out the Green Party's plan designed to stop NZ Cricket's Black Cap tour of Zimbabwe from going ahead.

Helen Clark told TVNZ's Breakfast programme that her government would not resort to "Mugabe style" laws to prevent the tour from going ahead.

She said such a move would be unacceptable on human rights grounds.

"Our concern would be, if we in New Zealand stooped to Mugabe style measures then that really isn't a very satisfactory outcome," Helen Clark told the Breakfast show. "We have a bill of rights that says that New Zealanders are free to leave the country and one is just reluctant to be imposing restrictions on the freedoms of Kiwis to travel," Helen Clark said.

However, Green Co-Leader Rod Donald said his Zimbabwe Sporting Sanction Bill would not deny New Zealand citizens their rights.

He said the Bill would make it an offence for any New Zealand national sporting organisation to send a team on a tour of Zimbabwe. If any team defied the law, their national body would be fined $50,000 and have all its government funding revoked for one financial year.

Rod Donald said: "New Zealanders don't want the Black Caps to tour Zimbabwe and they don't want NZ Cricket punished financially if the tour is called off," Mr Donald said. "This Green Bill offers the best of both worlds: it stops the tour and gets NZ Cricket off the hook with regard to any ICC fine.

"I have drafted the Bill in such a way that it preserves the freedoms of individual New Zealanders enshrined in the Bill of Rights Act. The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that no national sports team can give comfort to Robert Mugabe's genocidal regime, bringing New Zealand into disrepute and opening us up to the accusation that we are failing to live up to our international human rights commitments," Rod Donald said.

National leader Don Brash said the Bill is unacceptable, as did United Future leader Peter Dunne.

Don Brash said: “While we are opposed to the cricket tour, we regard legislating to curtail the freedom of New Zealanders to travel as draconian and dangerous."

Rod Donald said: "They're deliberately misrepresenting the Bill as curbing Kiwis' right to travel. That is patently not true. The Bill does not affect one bit the right of New Zealanders to travel where they want when they want. In fact, the Bill's only weakness is that it wouldn't stop a Cavaliers-style tour. It is deliberately weak so that we couldn't be accused of trying to curb Kiwis' rights to travel.

"To say that imposing a sporting sanction on Robert Mugabe unfairly curbs Kiwis' rights to play sport is like saying that imposing weapons sanctions on Saddam Hussein unfairly curbed the rights of Kiwi businesses to sell guns to the Iraqi thug," Rod Donald said.

The government plans to hold cross-party talks on the issue this evening. National, the Greens, and New Zealand First have accepted the invitation to be briefed by Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff.

Phil Goff met with Australia's foreign minister Alexander Downer in Brisbane on Sunday.

The Australian and New Zealand Foreign Ministers agreed to increase international pressure on the Mugabe regime a move designed to cease Zimbabwe's "abhorrent and egregious destruction of its people’s homes, livelihoods and basic human rights".

Australia and New Zealand would also:

  • Joint representations to the International Cricket Council (ICC) urging it to alter the rules to allow teams to forfeit tours to countries where serious human rights abuses are occurring.
  • Explore with like-minded countries a total sporting ban on all Zimbabwe representative teams.
  • Urge G8 members to address the Zimbabwe issue during its 6-8 July meeting in Scotland.
  • Make urgent representations to the UN Commissioner for Human Rights and members of the Security Council to urge the UN to investigate past and present human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
  • Support continued moves to expel Zimbabwe from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
  • Joint Australia/New Zealand demarche to South African Development Community (SADC) members, including South Africa, urging them to place diplomatic pressure on Zimbabwe to conform with international human rights standards.
  • Propose to Members of the Security Council that the actions of the Mugabe regime be referred to the International Criminal Court.
  • ENDS

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