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Gross dishonesty on impact of amnesty

Rt Hon Jenny Shipley Leader of the Opposition

Tuesday 17 April 2001

Gross dishonesty on impact of amnesty

National's claims of a deterioration in New Zealand's relationship with Australia, that were continually dismissed by both Helen Clark and Lianne Dalziel, have been proved correct after the release of previously withheld Cabinet papers, Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today.

Jenny Shipley has accused both the Prime Minister and Immigration Minister of gross dishonesty with the New Zealand public, based on the advice released today.

"Despite National's warnings to the Government, Labour proceeded to thumb its nose at Australia's concerns about the overstayer amnesty, naively claiming that there would be no consequence in terms of the Trans-Tasman relationship.

"Dalziel's attempts to play down the impact of the amnesty on our relationship with Australia, by saying she had spoken to the Australian Immigration Minister, have been exposed. Mr Ruddock's 'sharp and quick' response and his subsequent decision to write to the New Zealand Government demonstrates Australia's degree of anger at the overstayer amnesty," Mrs Shipley said.

Mrs Shipley has called for Ms Dalziel to release Mr Ruddock's letter so New Zealanders can fully understand the extent of Australia's frustration.

"The overstayer amnesty is yet another example of the Clark Government single-mindedly ignoring stern warnings from a wide range of officials - MFAT, Treasury, DWI and MSP all advised against the move and warned of the likely consequences, some of which have proved correct already.

"The Government blindly went ahead with the amnesty which put New Zealand officials in a weak position when it came to renegotiating reciprocal social security arrangements with Australia. The social security agreement decision, which Clark described as a win-win deal, reflects Australia's anger with New Zealand and their determination to lock out unskilled migrants particularly 'Pacific born migrants from New Zealand' referred to in the advice released today.

"Clark's claims of a 'win-win' deal were discredited by research from Australia's Monash University and the reason New Zealand lost so badly is increasingly evident from the documents released today.

"The Labour-Alliance Government's 'we know best' attitude is costing New Zealand. Today's revelations about the overstayer amnesty comes after the Government ignored the advice of officials in pushing ahead with the People's Bank and defence policies and not even seeking advice on the social welfare merger. We are drifting apart from Australia - highlighted by Australia's decision to leave New Zealand out in the cold in negotiating a bilateral trade agreement with the United States.

"Serious damage to the New Zealand-Australia relationship is clearly occurring as a direct result of the Labour Government's 'we know best' approach and New Zealanders are paying the price," Mrs Shipley said.


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