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Steel Spine Time For New Zealand Drawing Near

2 June 2000

STEEL SPINE TIME FOR NEW ZEALAND DRAWING NEAR

The predicted settlement over the weekend of the Fijian hostage crisis will be a test of the New Zealand Government's resolve, says United New Zealand leader, Hon Peter Dunne.

"This is the time we will see whether Phil Goff and his colleagues have a steel spine, or are just all talk."

"Throughout this crisis Mr Goff and his colleagues have talked very tough about their abhorrence of George Speight and all that he stands for."

"They have sounded unyielding in their demands that democratic government be restored, and have threatened all sorts of dire reactions if that does not happen."

"Now that it seems most likely that not only will the next Fijian Government be undemocratic and unconstitutional, but will also include Mr Speight and his cronies, the acid will go on Mr Goff and his Government to match their uncompromising rhetoric of the last couple of weeks with strong action," Mr Dunne says.

However, he is predicting the steel spine will vanish when the crunch comes.

"There is no suggestion the Government is prepared to immediately terminate diplomatic relations with Fiji and push for the rest of the Commonwealth to do likewise."

"Nor is there any suggestion that it will introduce trade or people-to-people sanctions to show how despicably we regard the current Fijian political situation."

"Instead, the Government's response is likely to be so choked in diplomatic niceties, the Speight thugs will interpret it as meaningless, and New Zealand will be seen as a soft touch once again."

"I predict the Government's strong words will quickly evaporate into placatory weasel words once the new regime takes office," Mr Dunne says.

ENDS




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