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Nuclear Waste Transport Issue Misses Crucial Point

23 January 2001


The present controversy about the transportation over the shipment of nuclear fuel through the Tasman Sea, raises an important issue regarding our defence capability, namely our ability as a country to police any infringement of our territorial waters by our defence forces says, Hon Peter Dunne, leader United Future.

"While it is unlikely the ships will not move through the New Zeaalnd exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the shipping companies operating the vessels do reserve the right to enter the zone for reasons of 'weather, navigation, currents all sorts of things.' However, if they were to enter our zone New Zealand's ability to respond would be compromised.

"This is due to the Government's lack of commitment to retaining the ability to enforce the economic zone. For example, if the Government chooses to do away with the Orion squadron and a lack of naval cover, without a replacement then New Zealand's ability to police the EEZ will be seriously compromised," says Mr Dunne.

He says he shares the concern at the shipment of nuclear fuel and despite all the assurances of high safety there is still a risk of accident, albeit small.

"In these and other circumstances where the integrity of our territorial waters are under threat from foreign ships we must have a trusted, reliable means to police the zone. Under this Government we are giving up such a capacity which leaves our protests looking hollow.

"The Government are absolutely right to protest at this shipment in the strongest possible terms. They must as a matter of priority ensure we can maintain our territorial integrity through proper means of surveillance and back-up, otherwise we end up once more looking as though we are just all talk and no action," concludes Mr Dunne.


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