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PM puts photo opportunity ahead of NZ's interests

Gavan Herlihy National Agriculture Spokesperson

21 February 2002

PM puts photo opportunity ahead of NZ's interests

"Helen Clark's desire for an international photo opportunity appears to be the only reason why New Zealand will ratify the Kyoto Protocol ahead of our major competitors," says National Agriculture spokesman Gavan Herlihy.

Mr Herlihy says Energy Minister Pete Hodgson confirmed at today's Foreign Affairs Select Committee hearing that the so-called public consultation period over Kyoto has been constrained because the Prime Minister must sign the treaty by September.

"New Zealanders are being called on to make submissions on the recently released 'Kyoto National Interest Analysis'. Submissions close on March 11 - a month before any details of the Government's preferred policy package on how it intends achieving the carbon emission levels set out for New Zealand in the Kyoto Protocol.

"The Select Committee process should follow after the Government's policy package is released - not before. But such timing would put Ms Clark's planned photo opportunity at risk."

Mr Herlihy says with so much at stake for New Zealand, particularly for our agriculture sector, it makes little sense why the Labour/Alliance Government is rushing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol before our major competitors.

"The Government appears to be putting the cart before the horse.

"Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton seems oblivious to the risks New Zealand's agriculture sector is being exposed to by his Government rushing to ratify Kyoto, ahead of Australia, who are our major competitors for dairy and sheep meat exports, and the US which is our major competitor in world beef markets.

"It's time the Government put New Zealand's interests ahead of its own selfish political interests - such as photo opportunities on the world stage for the Prime Minister," Mr Herlihy concluded.

Ends

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