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Richard Prebble’s Letter From Wellington


Richard Prebble’s Letter From Wellington

Is Labour about to change...
…the nuclear policy? Inquiries by The Letter reveal that the issue has not been debated within the party but in the Byzantine government of Helen Clark, that means little. Last week’s snap decision to send Te Kaha and an Orion to the Gulf war was not discussed. The Letter believes that a ‘finesse’ of NZ nuclear free legislation to enable a nuclear powered ship to visit is being seriously considered.

Consider the evidence. Labour wants an FTA with the US and the cost is a change to the nuclear free law. Labour sent a frigate and an Orion to the Gulf and carefully refused to rule out assistance to a US/UN sanctioned strike against Iraq.

Those who say Clark would never make a change are précisely the same people who said Labour would never send the SAS to Afghanistan. Clark’s strategy has been to take the centre ground. How could National oppose a change? The Alliance party no longer exists. The Greens are no real threat.

The politics of a change in policy are compelling. The idea that Michael Cullen just let it slip that the nuclear issue is the stumbling block to free trade is silly. Ministers never just let things slip out. Labour is feeling out the ground.

Australia/US free trade agreement

The number one foreign policy objective of successive governments has been to obtain an FTA with the USA, the world’s largest economy. This week a letter from Robert B Zoellick, the chief trade negotiator, advised the Senate that USA was commencing negotiating with Australia excluding New Zealand - our worst nightmare.

Why is it bad news?

As a minimum a FTA will cover manufactured goods. A firm like Fisher & Paykel that exports its special dishwashers and health products to the USA will have to transfer production to its Australian plants.

As big as Britain entering the EC

The Knowledge Wave Trust in its report of 8 October stated that “… an FTA with the US is a clear priority. The impact of Australia succeeding in securing a free trade agreement without NZ will be of similar impact to the UK entering the European Union in 1973.”

A lifeline

The government was surprised that Zoellick’s letter to congress included mention of New Zealand: “Given the integration of the economies of Australia and New Zealand, New Zealand has been advocating its case to the Administration, as well as to Congress, that an FTA with New Zealand would complement our FTAs with Singapore and Australia. We will be soliciting the views of the Congress on this matter as we move forward with the Australian FTA.” (See the whole letter on http:// http://www.act.org.nz/zoellick)

The Labour government had been told that the FTA was going ahead with Australia and both Australia and the USA had said no to including NZ. Mr Stanley, the US businessman who heads the NZ/American Chamber of Commerce, said publicly that the Bush administration saw no prospect of an FTA while the nuclear issue was unresolved.

Quid pro quo for Te Kaha

Senior officials believe that the unexpected inclusion of a reference to NZ is due to the repositioning of Te Kaha to the Gulf and Helen Clark’s careful refusal to rule out NZ joining a US/UN sanctioned invasion of Iraq.
What is the problem?

The US is aware that the NZ government’s own independent inquiry headed by our top scientists found that the nuclear reactor on a ship was so small it did not pose any conceivable risk. Auckland hospital emits more radiation each day than the whole US fleet in a year!

The huge growth in trade between Australia and NZ since the signing of CER demonstrates how effective free trade is. A liberal FTA by itself guarantees 4% growth a year which is a doubling of income in 18 years. There is not a social issue – from health to the sustainability of superannuation – that would not be transformed by a doubling of wealth.

ACT’s private members bill

ACT MPs believe the ban on nuclear propulsion is absurd. ACT deputy leader Hon Ken Shirley is seeking to introduce a bill that amends the nuclear free law in NZ to allow nuclear powered ships to enter NZ waters.

Readers’ Poll

Do you think an FTA agreement with the USA is worth it if the cost is an occasional visit by a nuclear powered ship? Vote in our online poll at http://www.act.org.nz/nukepoll

Do you favour NZ negotiating a free trade agreement with USA and Australia?
2. Do you support NZ’s nuclear free law being amended to permit the visit of nuclear powered ships – but still keeping the ban on nuclear weapons in this country?

ACT regional conferences

Papers being presented at ACT’s regional conference are available on www.act.org.nz/regionalconference

Book cancelled

The Letter has learnt that a National supporter was recently rung by Bill English and asked to write a chapter in a book that was to redefine National. He agreed. Two weeks later Bill rang to say the project was being cancelled. ACT MPs are writing now – not one book but at the last count six books! (Deborah Coddington is writing two!)

ACT’s next collation of the “best of ACT” is to be called “Liberal Thinking” and publication is timed for March 2003. If you know what you stand for, writing books comes easily.

$10 million for a commission

On 14 October Peter Dunne attacked the Dominion Post’s Jonathan Milne who suggested that a Commission for the Family might cost $4 million. In his letter to the editor Dunne said of Milne: “He dredges up figures of millions of dollars to fund the commission, figures of which I am unaware…After many years in political life, I do not expect columnists to write only admiringly about politicians, but I do expect honesty, integrity and the ability to stick to the facts.”
Oh really?

In today’s Dominion Post Peter Dunne confirms that he is seeking between $8 and $10 million for the Commission.
Honestly, we don’t know what to say! Immigration criteria changed

The recent change in the immigration points system – lifting the number of points needed for the English language – means that relatively few Asian migrants will be approved under the points system next year. One immigration consultant advised The Letter that not one mainland Chinese client will now get approval. Not a single newspaper has pointed out that given the change in the points system Mr Peters’ predictions about Asianisation are nonsense. Richard Prebble’s speech tells it like it is. See www.act.org.nz/immigration


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