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Govt manipulates to avoid Parl debate on Iraq

Govt manipulates to avoid Parliament debate on Iraq

Helen Clark is trying to avoid a debate on Iraq in Parliament while she is predicting full-scale war to break out on March 17, National says.

"New Zealand is one of only a few western democracies whose Prime Minister has denied Parliament the right to debate the situation in Iraq," says National Shadow Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee.

"The Government's suggestion that Parliament should debate a war in Iraq in Member's only time shows the contempt that Helen Clark has for Parliament.

"Michael Cullen had previously suggested a debate on Iraq instead of a debate on the Budget Policy Statement set down for 3pm this Wednesday. This meant it was either a debate on the Budget or Iraq, but not both, leaving Member's time as the only option to debate Iraq this week.

"Labour is reluctant to debate either Iraq or the Budget, so it is trying to manipulate the debating time to avoid at least one of these debates," Mr Brownlee said.

"Iraq is a serious and global issue. All MPs should have the opportunity to debate it in Parliamentary time, as has long been the tradition in the New Zealand Parliament. Member's time is primarily for the opposition to present Member's Bills.

"Such flagrant disrespect for Member's time, when it is the Government that has to make the decision about New Zealand's involvement in any action of war, shows scant regard for the democratic process, and is a contemptible act against Parliament. But no one should be surprised at Helen Clark's capacity to manipulate the Standing Orders of Parliament.

"The Government has a duty to all New Zealanders to ensure the situation in Iraq is debated by Parliament. It should set a debate down for 3pm Thursday, so that the New Zealand Parliament can express a view prior to the Parliamentary recess and Helen Clark's predicted start date for war," says Gerry Brownlee.

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