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Prebble’s Letter From Wellington: ISOLATED

Prebble’s Letter From Wellington: ISOLATED

On Thursday in parliament Richard Prebble asked Dr Cullen, “When is the PM going to make her statement to parliament?” The answer: “Helen has got to wait to see Bush’s statement on TV to confirm whether the war has started”. On Tuesday Clark boasted that she had been in telephone contact with the Prime Minister of Chile! Truly NZ has never been so isolated.


Labour’s foreign policy based on “multilateralism” and “support for the Security Council” is in tatters. Clark continues to describe an action backed by over 40 countries as unilateral, but supports France’s (unilateral) veto. New Zealand finds itself isolated from our traditional allies, Australia, UK and USA, and from our trading partners, Japan and South Korea, but supporting France, Germany and Russia, nations that we do little trade with, and do not agree with our stance on issues like GATT.


Clark’s repeated claim that NZ’s opposition to Australia, UK and USA won’t hurt our future relationships is just not credible. The media fails to point out that the status of “friend”, diplomatically, is a country with which another does not have a dispute. NZ now has the status of Singapore but with much less influence. Once NZ had access to decision makers of Continental Europe because it was known we had influence in Washington. Now our ambassadors report they can’t even get appointments because our views are irrelevant.


Last week ACT demonstrated MMP in action. Neither Labour nor National has been keen to debate Iraq. Labour, because the government has three policies: in NZ, crude anti-Americanism; in the Persian Gulf, our frigate is escorting allied shipping; and in the UN, NZ is fence sitting. National, looking at the public opinion polls, has been reluctant to criticise. United and NZ First have been hoping no one would ask them for a view. Only the Greens (strongly anti-American) and ACT (strongly pro-USA) have been willing to debate. Last week ACT, by taking the Iraq issue to the Business Committee, forced a debate where Labour had to set out its position. Richard Prebble then moved a notice of motion which required all the Parties to vote – United and NZ First against the US and National to vote with ACT. Without ACT, the NZ parliament could well have never debated what is the biggest issue


It is not just John Howard’s career that is on the line. NZ MPs, Clark, English, Dunne, Peters and Prebble have much at stake. Helen Clark has bet her career (and NZ) that the war will be a humanitarian catastrophe, and her opposition will not affect NZ’s relationships. Peter Dunne and Winston Peters now hope she is correct. ACT’s decision to dismiss the UN as an empty debating chamber and strongly endorse our allies’ position means ACT has as much riding on the war as John Howard. While it’s safe to predict that Saddam Hussein’s career is over, it’s also safe to predict he’s only the first politician whose career the war will claim.


What does NZ’s only Muslim MP think about the war in Iraq? We don’t know, as Labour has not let Ashraf Choudhary speak.


Winz has launched a High Court case using Crown Law against the Ombudsman. The story so far: under the Official Information Act the Bailiff of the High Court sought the addresses of welfare beneficiaries who have absconded owing rent. The landlord has judgement orders, knows that the debtors are on welfare but does not have present addresses. The Ombudsman ruled the court orders should be upheld and ordered Winz to supply the addresses. Politically correct Winz is now going to court to fight. Oh, who is the landlord? The Ministry of Housing. The court case is estimated to cost $200,000 in legal fees alone.


Sports clubs have been double whammied by Labour. First, the total ban on smoking. But coming up is a revenue grab. Sport in NZ is financed from gambling. Many clubs have pokie machines and the proceeds pay for things like the national soccer and netball competitions. Trevor Mallard has told sports organisations that the government has decided “in principle” to take an extra 5% in tax. Depending how it is levied, that could be 28% of sports clubs’ revenue. Labour also wants to administer it. Helen Clark told Rugby League administrators that the money was going to “too blokey” causes.


The huge spike in power prices is the market working. NZ needs more power stations. The private sector is willing to build them. DOC is stopping a hydro station on the West Coast. Venture Southland wants to build a coal-fired station to assist Tiwai Point – our biggest single manufacturing export earner, but Labour is the only government in the Southern Hemisphere to have signed Kyoto. The government’s regulations are turning off the lights.


>From tomorrow the video of ACT’s conference may be viewed on the website, http://www.act.org.nz/conference.


The Herald, which has devoted six whole pages to ACT’s management of its parliamentary office, reported that the parliamentary commission has written a report, but edited out the Speaker’s statement that “there are no adverse reflections on any MP or Party.”

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