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National Sends Mixed Messages Over Kenneth Keith

National Sends Mixed Messages Over Sir Kenneth Keith Appointment

By Kevin List

New National MP John Hayes hit out in his maiden speech at foreign affairs expenditure and in particular the expenditure involved in securing Sir Kenneth Keith's position to the International Court of Justice – a position that National's justice spokespeople were celebrating a week earlier.

The National Party had fully supported Sir Kenneth's appointment: "Sir Kenneth Keith has provided outstanding service to New Zealand for many years", said Chris Finlayson, National's shadow Attorney-General in a press release entitled 'National congratulates Sir Kenneth Keith' following Sir Kenneth's legal elevation.

However, Last Thursday in his maiden parliamentary speech, John Hayes said: "I note the self-congratulation for securing Sir Ken Keith’s place on the world judicial stage. I ask; what the millions of dollars of time and expense chasing this outcome will deliver to my constituent?"

Mr Hayes is a former New Zealand foreign affairs career official. His bio states he lived and represented New Zealand in Singapore, India, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia as Charge d'Affairs, Papua New Guinea (as High Commissioner) and Iran (as Ambassador). Mr Hayes has also been an advisor to Prime Ministers and senior Ministers and has direct experience of the political process having been Principal Private Secretary to Mike Moore when he was Minister of Overseas Trade.

Mr Hayes told Scoop today that the implied criticism of 'self – congratulation' in his speech was not aimed at National MPs, Richard Worth, Chris Finlayson and Wayne Mapp but at the wider foreign affairs community. "I was simply making the point that what is [Sir Kenneth Keith's] being [at the International Court of Justice] going to do for the people in my electorate. And if he isn't going to do a lot why are we spending the money?"

Mr Hayes told Scoop following his time in the Public Service he is now driven by how central government impacts on local communities.

"I think we need to take a much harder look at how we are spending Government funds on behalf of the whole community," he said.

When asked just how many millions had actually been spent on assisting Sir Kenneth Keith's bid for the International Court of Justice, Mr Hayes seemed uncertain of his figures. "I don't know I've asked the Ministry to let us know what the campaign cost and in due course I'll know the answer," he told Scoop.

The concerns raised in Mr Hayes speech had been conveyed to National's justice spokespeople. Mr Hayes was somewhat reticent when asked what their response was.

"This is democracy here – all sorts of people have all sorts of views. That's fair enough," Mr Hayes said.

ENDS

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