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Goff Alleges National Sought US Help With Policy

Goff Alleges National Sought US Help To Sell Policy

Minister of Foreign Affairs Phil Goff.

During a raucous final question time for this session of Parliament, Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff read out statements his opposition counterpart, Dr Lockwood Smith had allegedly made whilst on a visit to the United States last year.

What Dr Smith had said on a trip he and National Party leader, Dr Don Brash had made last year had been something of a mystery. Dr Brash had been accused by Phil Goff of having told US officials New Zealand's Nuclear free policy would be 'gone by lunchtime 'should he be the next Prime Minister. Dr Brash had been unable to recall whether or not he had said these words. Until this afternoon when Mr Goff sought to shed some light on Dr Smith's statements to US officials, Dr Smith's conversations had remained private.

Labour Whip Jill Pettis asked Mr Goff a question related to Dr Smith's United States sojourn last year and Mr Goff read out, under parliamentary privilege, the guts of a conversation Dr Smith had supposedly had with United States officials.

"Dr Smith, quote, asked whether it would be worthwhile for a United States think-tank to assist with a public campaign in New Zealand following the National Party's study review. The National Party's study review that he had been talking about [Madam Speaker] was the review by Wyatt Creech of the nuclear free policy. The response from the leader of the delegation was, I quote, it was an internal issue for New Zealand and as such it should be left to a New Zealand think-tank - the United states should not involve itself in such an issue," Mr Goff told the House.

Following his explanation of Dr Smith's interactions with United States policy makers, Mr Goff returned to the theme of National Party policy being written in Washington that had got Trevor Mallard into some difficulty two weeks ago.

"Apparently Madam Speaker, not only does Dr Lockwood Smith and Dr Brash want the policy to be written in Washington but they want Washington to do their work for them," said Mr Goff.

After Mr Goff had made this statement it was necessary for the Speaker to call for order as angry recriminations flowed across the House.

The Deputy leader of the National Party, Gerry Brownlee complained to the Speaker that Mr Goff's answer had been too long and implied that Mr Goff could twist any answer he gave in the House to suit his own ends.

In a slightly shorter answer following the airing of Mr Brownlee's concerns, Mr Goff explained that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade had forwarded their transcript of Dr Smith's comments to him. According to Mr Goff, Dr Smith had at no time sought to dispute this transcript.

ENDS

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