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Post Cabinet Press Conference: Iraq Deployment Extension

Today Prime Minister John Key and Minister for Defence Gerry Brownlee announced New Zealand's deployment in Iraq will continue for a further eighteen months. This extension to the current two year deployment will mean that NZ troops will be at Camp Taji until late 2018.

The Prime Minister said the threat posed to New Zealand by ISIL “remains a real one” and that he was committed to making a contribution in Iraq. Gerry Brownlee also emphasised the role New Zealand has in addressing the threats posed by this group, which he referred to as Daesh.

John Key stated that he wanted to “acknowledge this change in position” based on advice he has received. Both Key and Brownlee stressed that the role of New Zealand troops would remain “behind the wire” and that there would be no increase in personnel deployed in Iraq.

The main reason for making the announcement now was to give New Zealand’s military ally Australia enough time to plan how they would use their resources in similar areas. Key said he was “extremely reluctant to see troops go beyond the wire” but also “it’s just not quite job done yet”.

Key announced that the duration of the New Zealand embassy to Iraq would be extended to match the length of the deployment.

After the defence announcement Key took questions about Auckland, housing, welfare and the misplaced firearm in Parliament buildings last week.

In answering questions about several marae offering services to the homeless Key said that “in the world that we live in” Government is not the only provider of support. He did mollify that statement by saying large scale welfare provision by community groups was not a long term solution and that Ministry of Social Development staff were visiting Te Puea Marae “every day”. He said that Te Puea is "not asking for financial support” from the Government.

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