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Hypocrisy On Fiji Issue Has No Bounds Says Dunne

Official papers confirm that the Government softened its "smart sanctions" policy on Fiji to ensure the recent International Rugby Sevens Tournament went ahead in Wellington, according to United Future leader, Hon Peter Dunne.

Mr Dunne says the papers he obtained under the Official Information Act, show that in October 2000 the New Zealand Government advised the Australian Government of "an adjustment" to the smart sanctions policy, in light of the forthcoming Rugby Sevens.

"This was clearly a reference to protecting the International Sevens Tournament, and as the documents show, it came as quite a surprise, to the Australians, that the New Zealand Government was so keen to compromise its smart sanctions policy.

"The documents also show that in January 2001when the Australians banned Fiji from attending the planned Brisbane Sevens Tournament, Sports Minister Trevor Mallard, was of the initial view New Zealand should similarly ban Fiji, unless the International Rugby Board clearly made Fiji's participation a condition of New Zealand hosting the Wellington Tournament.

"Once the International Rugby Board clearly responded to his implicit invitation to get him off the hook, Mr Mallard was quick to invoke the "adjustment' referrred to in the October paper to enable the Fijian team to participate, thus ensuring the tournament could go ahead in Wellington.

"Put simply, as far as our Government was concerned, New Zealand principles and commitment to the situation of Indo-Fijians and democracy in Fiji was clearly of secondary importance to the Sevens tournament going ahead in Wellington at virtually any cost.

"Mr Mallard's fanatacism to be photographed wherever possible in the company of international sports stars has not only got in the way of principle and integrity, but also humiliated New Zealand in the eyes of both the Australians and the local Indo-Fijian population many of whom have loyally supported the Labour Party for years, only to be kicked in the teeth by this craven move.

"These papers show quite clearly the New Zealand Government acted like juvenille wimps. Mallard, Goff and other guilty Ministers should hang their heads in shame. Their integrity is in tatters," says Mr Dunne.

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