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"A TIME FOR LEADERSHIP" - Shipley Speech

"A TIME FOR LEADERSHIP"

Speech by Rt Hon Jenny Shipley Leader of the Opposition

Delivered to the Council of Women World Leaders, New York Wednesday 26 September

The image of contemporary New York crumbling before the eyes of the world was a defining moment for our generation. The realisation that over 6000 unique and special people had had their lives extinguished by an evil and cowardly act of terrorism has, in a single day, led individuals and nations to know what they stand for and, perhaps more importantly, what they stand against.

Can I convey to you and all Americans the deep and heart-felt sorrow of the freedom loving people of New Zealand. We pray for those who have lost their lives. We extend our compassion and concern to their families and friends as they seek to find meaning in this tragedy.

We express our sympathy to the American people and in doing so reach out and stand shoulder to shoulder with you as you seek justice.

President Bush has won admiration from the American people and the international community alike for his defining comments as he described this act of terrorism for what it was. An evil act. In doing so he left no room for those who would seek to justify these actions. His strong leadership and relentless determination to seek justice and his decisiveness in making clear to those who harbour terrorists, that they would also be held responsible, has set a new standard in international relations. Those who have followed an isolationist approach to external threats have, as a result of this event, been found to be naïve and morally irresponsible. Terrorism will require burden-sharing in the full sense of the word. Traditional defence capability will need to be supported by intelligence gathering and greater sharing of information. Closing off funding supplies will require real commitment from governments and regional groupings. Being diligent in terms of immigration and refugee policy will take on a new meaning, while still seeking to achieve the original objectives. Leaders will be required to strike the right balance.

But equally importantly, the President's measured approach in building a broad-based coalition of nations who might otherwise, in different circumstances, have significant differences has been skilful. Most able leaders, without hesitation, have committed their country to this cause because terrorism is wrong and must be sought out and annihilated. Time will see this task completed.

But this is a time for leadership in other areas as well.

Just as the bully seeks an advantage over his peers;

just as the guy who indulges in sexist behaviour seeks to suppress and intimidate;

just as those blinded by racism seek to exclude;

so terrorists seek the emotional advantage by undermining people's confidence in their institutions, systems, attitudes, values and aspirations.

Freedom loving people must wage a war on this emotional level as well, by staring down those who would like to redefine our way of life. In a gentle but firm way we must encourage people to be objective. While this has been a terrible event we must not allow the media in particular, to unwittingly assist the terrorists objective by making us paralysed with fear.

The leadership demonstrated by Mayor Guilani has been outstanding. His compassion and commitment to his people are unquestioned. But his defiant determination that New York will remain the city where liberty is guarded and anything is still possible has been inspiring. How easy it is to quiver and create reasons why life should not go on. But that is not what leaders should do, be it in business, in politics or in the arts. They must reassert their determination to continue business as usual because, by doing so, they will rebuild confidence in the wider community.

A second area requiring urgent attention is how to re-establish confidence in the world's economies.

Leaders create conditions, which then allow businesses to do business. Leaders rarely enhance markets by second guessing them or injecting stimulus measures in order to achieve correction. While there is no dispute that there has been a severe economic shock as a result of the terrorist attack, leaders were also aware that an economic adjustment was occurring prior to the attack.

The same considered approach that has been taken to coalition building also needs to be taken to addressing key issues facing the world economy.

Alan Greenspan's considered comments in front of the congressional committee last week deserve serious consideration. In particular, his call for a rapid response to complete a WTO round that would see protections reduced has real merit. It would establish confidence again but, most importantly, would address the fundamental issue of allowing populations currently excluded from the trading system to be included. Over time, economic success would have a broader base and this would address migration issues related to economic refugees. This is a serious issue that only leaders with a will to face up to the underlying causes of economic difficulties will be capable of addressing.

The third issue that requires courage from women leaders in particular is the issue of the erosion of some rights for women. While respect and tolerance of cultural and religious differences is essential it is also critical that we are willing to speak out where an abuse of women's rights occurs. Recent reports that women in Kashmir and Afghanistan have been threatened with death or the risk of having acid thrown in their face if they are seen in public with their face uncovered goes far too far.

While the fight against terrorism and the fight against the repression of women are both issues of our time, we must take care to make clear this is not a challenge to Islam. Indeed, many Islamic countries have made great progress in recognising and promoting the status of women. But whenever, in the name of religion, evil acts are committed or threatened they must be condemned for what they are, evil acts.

This is a time for clear thinking, for focus, for inspirational leadership. People everywhere are waiting, hopeful yet cautious.

ENDS

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