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ANZFA Row - Symptom Of Deteriorating Relationship

ANZFA Row Symptom Of Deteriorating Trans-Tasman Relationship

The Australian Federal Government's complete disregard for New Zealand in the stand-off over ANZFA is another indication of the extent to which the Trans-Tasman relationship has deteriorated in recent months, Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today.

Food safety standards are currently set by the Australia New Zealand Food Safety Authority (ANZFA). Decisions are made by a council of Health Ministers from both countries. However the Australian Government is proposing legislation which would give it the power to overrule ANZFA decisions.

"That would destroy the ability of New Zealand to have an input on vital issues such as genetically modified food, food additives and food labelling," Jenny Shipley said today. "You have to wonder whether this is one of the 'international consequences' John Howard warned of when Helen Clark scrapped the combat capability of our Air Force.

"When ANZFA was established in the early 1990s New Zealand and Australia were equal partners. The Labour-Alliance Government must explain why that has deteriorated to the point where Australia is now moving ahead without any apparent reference to New Zealand's interests. The fact Health Minister Annette King has 'written' to the Australian Government, rather than simply picking up the phone, further illustrates the extent to which the relationship has deteriorated.

"This latest backward step comes on top of compelling evidence, released under the OIA, that the Labour-Alliance Government buckled to pressure from Australia to lower the social welfare status of New Zealanders in Australia. The Australian Government has also excluded New Zealand from talks to broker a free trade agreement with the United States.

"Those sort of actions, which downgrade the status of New Zealand, would seem to be in direct response to the Labour-Alliance Government's decision to go-it-alone in areas such as defence, and to lower the bar on immigration by allowing low-skilled migrants to become New Zealand citizens and thus enter the Trans-Tasman labour market.

"Prime Minister Helen Clark should pick up the phone and speak to her counterpart across the Tasman to see that New Zealand's interests are not overlooked in this ANZFA row. If she fails to do this then our country risks becoming increasingly isolated from the rest of the world and our nearest neighbours," Jenny Shipley said.


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