What's The Trade-Off, Helen?
Tuesday, September 4 2001
No one believes the New Zealand government is accepting 150 Afghan refugees out of concern for the Afghans, ACT leader Richard Prebble says.
"The idea that Helen Clark did it solely for matesmanship, doesn't seem credible," Mr Prebble said.
"During the past two years, Ms Clark hasn't missed an opportunity to annoy the Australians on issues ranging from defence to the Kyoto Protocol.
"We know why Nauru accepted the refugees ' it was for money. I believe the New Zealand Prime Minister should come clean and tell us what she expects from the Australians in return for accepting the 150 Afghanis.
"If it's an honourable trade-off, we all should know. If it's not honourable, why is she doing it?
"We should also be told whether Helen Clark consulted Kim Beazley, the Australian Labor leader and the likely next Prime Minister. Will Mr Beazley regard Ms Clark's actions as being in the ANZAC spirit of matesmanship, or as an attempt to bail out his political foe John Howard?
"It's well known that Mr Beazley doesn't have high regard for New Zealand and has an even lower opinion of the New Zealand Labour Party, and of Ms Clark in particular.
"If Ms Clark didn't consult Mr Beazley, then her few seconds of international exposure on CNN may cost New Zealand dearly in terms of our future relationship with Australia. We're entitled to an explanation," Mr Prebble said.