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The Right Talk: Long Term View on Global Peace

The Right Talk - 22 March - Bill English

21 March 2003

The Long Term View on Global Peace

National backs the dozens of countries who support decisive action to disarm Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction. It is in New Zealand's long-term interests and those of global peace to do so.

We supported the UN process to ensure that if there were a war, it would have the broadest possible endorsement by the international community. When the UN process failed, we decided to support our traditional allies - not the bloc led by Russia, France and China. The New Zealand Government, which opposes the action our allies are taking, now has the luxury of knowing the threat Saddam posed to the world will be removed.

Saddam could have opted for peace at any time in the past months by fully disarming, but instead he chose to mislead the UN, leaving chemical and biological weapons unaccounted for.

To oppose the war, as Labour does, requires them to say that the US-led forces should now withdraw. Yet that would result in Saddam Hussein facing down the US. Any hope of persuading North Korea, which poses a more direct threat to our region, to disarm would then be infinitely more difficult. In recent years the US has stepped into stop genocide in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. It is again playing the role of global policeman - one that is likely to continue.

More Power Play

New Zealand is facing its second power crisis in as many years. With jobs and growth at risk, businesses and union leaders are calling for action. In Parliament, Dr Cullen has confirmed the Government's view that prices need to rise. In 1999, Labour campaigned to bring electricity prices down, winning widespread business support for their stance: after three years, a long Ministerial Inquiry into the electricity industry (in 2000) and a power crisis (in 2001), nothing has changed.

This is a good example of how short term political thinking leads to real long-term problems, for real people. At Pacific Steel, 350 people have had to stop work this month because the spot price for electricity rose from under 10c per unit to over 78c per unit in one week.

What's more worrying is the energy shortages could be here to stay: there is little hope of substantial alternative generation being in place by 2005 when current gas reserves come under major strain. It's unsustainable for economic growth to outstrip energy growth - no wonder Helen Clark ran a mile from her target of getting New Zealand back into the top half of the OECD.


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