Question Time On East Timor And Apec
The following are paraphrases of today's questions for oral answer. They are not complete or official, the official record of Parliamentary proceedings is Hansard, which is not finalised some days after the event.
Rt Hon. Helen Clark to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:
Q: Further to Dr Habibie's assurance to her, with respect to the imposition of martial law in East Timor, that she should "watch out, it will work", does she accept that assurance; if so, what evidence does she have that it is working so far?
A: (Wyatt Creech on behalf) Yesterday I informed Parliament of the assurances Mr Habibe. As I made clear yesterday I remain very doubtful about the security in East Timor. The facts speak for themselves. New Zealand is continuing in discussions with the UN Secretary General and President Habibe about the matter. We stand ready to provide military assistance. The situation is a very serious situation. The government is moving now. In a wide range of areas. What we would like to do is see a restoration of peace. Our Foreign Minister and Prime Minister are working hard on the matter right now.
Q: Has he seen any reports on the opposition's views on the APEC agenda?
Yes. In this morning's NZ Herald the comments of the opposition on putting the matter on the APEC agenda are described as "Bogus"(see www.nzherald.co.nz). (Later) I would have thought that even Matt Robson would have realised that when all nations work together then there is a chance at peace.
Q: Ron Mark - NZ First - Does he accept that if President Habibe invites in peace keepers then he signs his own death warrant - and if so what is Plan B?
A: The government's commitment is to do all we can to achieve peace for the people of East Timor.
Q: (Helen Clark - Labour) Also quotes from NZ Herald - "this is a chance for Governments to show that trade is not cordoned off from human rights concerns, " and why then will she not put it on the agenda?
A: The government has continually emphasised that we place a very high priority on resolution of this crisis and that we are doing all we can. Rather than making cheap political points. After that member made out this morning that APEC was nothing more than a series of cocktail party invitations she has accepted every invitation.
(Helen Clark - In the last answer references were made to a series of cocktail parties - I haven't received any? Minor Disorder.)
Hon. Dr Michael Cullen to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade:
Q: What Government assistance was provided to promote the trade fair associated with APEC aimed at being the showcase for New Zealand industry, and how does this compare with assistance which other APEC hosts have provided for similar events?
A: (Max Bradford) The trade fair was a private. We decided not to hold a trade fair for a number of reasons. Since formation of APEC there have been only three assisted trade fairs.
Q: (Michael Cullen - Labour) Can he confirm that the government is more interested in promoting its own agenda at APEC than promoting trade?
A: That might be true but for the fact that we are holding a CEO forum also which will do a great deal for trade for New Zealand businesses. The background to the decision not to endorse the fair was made clear to the fair organisers. We asked the organisers on several occasions not to use official APEC logos. The fair organisers ignored that advice.
Hon. Phil Goff to the Minister of Defence:
Q: What is the earliest time by which New Zealand peace-making ( peace makin in written version) troops could be on the ground in East Timor, and what are the reasons for any delay in readiness?
A: As announced yesterday NZ stands ready provided a force is mandated by the UN and it consists of a group of like minded nations which is preferably . We are currently deploying advance logistics planners and ADF liason staff.. NZ awaits the outcome of Martial Law and the advice of the UN.
Q: (Phil Goff - Labour) Has he seen any advice how many people have been killed and why can't we be on 24 hours notice like Australia?
A: I find that extraordinary. That member is proposing an invasion? No……(Phil Goff thought himself misconstrued ) can you then show me the UN mandate? We will deal to the situation in line with a UN mandate and the member will - I fear - come to eat his words in due course, and I say that this government is prepared to send troops - far more than the Labour government could ever be. This morning I announced that Te Kaha is re-deploying to Darwin and emphasises our readiness to assist when called upon. I would fully expect that NZ will be on the ground before most other countries are. And at least we will be equipped to do the job. Unlike we would be under labour who want to strip us of all the readiness we have. We would prefer new APCs but when they go in they will be in properly equipped.
Q: Why will it take so long? Is it because of APEC?
A: The member is simply trying to make political . They (Australia) are only on 24 hour standby to the same extent as we are, they will take longer than that for a full army deployment. We will be there when we are needed and when the UN mandate requires us to be.