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Prime Minister Accused Of Security Cover Up

26 July, 2002

Prime Minister Accused Of Security Cover Up

National defence spokesman Richard Worth today accused the Prime Minister Helen Clark of overseeing for electioneering purposes a “cover-up” of the security situation for New Zealanders in Iraq.

“The Australian Government has urged its nationals this week to either leave or avoid visiting that country as the US prepares to widen its war on terrorism in the region.

“We have seen no such warning from Ms Clark.

“We can only conclude that she is covering up the reality of the threat posed to New Zealanders either visiting or living in Iraq because she does not want defence or foreign policy matters to become an issue in this election.

“Ms Clark has a responsibility as Prime Minister to place the security interests of New Zealanders ahead of her political needs. The situation is a shameful reflection on the cynical manipulation of security and defence matters that her Government has followed during its term of office.

“Ms Clark knows that many in her party, and in her potential coalition partner the Greens, are opposed to New Zealand’s links with the US in the fight against global terrorism. She does not want this issue at the forefront of debate and appears willing to risk the lives of New Zealanders to avoid having such debate in the election campaign.

“It is inconceivable that her Government is not aware of the security situation in the middle east. As a partner with the US in combatting world wide terrorism she must be aware of the circumstances that led the Australian Government to warn its nationals of the dangers existing in the region.

“The country needs answers from Ms Clark now, without equivocation. Why has she not told us of the situation. And it won’t wash to simply say that she doesn’t assess the situation to be as bad as Australia obviously considers it to be. The Australian Government does not issue such warnings lightly.” – ends

Ends

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