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Michael Cullen: Speech to the NZ Rotarians

Michael Cullen: Speech to the NZ Rotarians PM's Cup Dinner

Address to ING New Zealand Rotarians Prime Minister's Cup Presentation Dinner

It is an honour for me to represent the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Helen Clark, at this event.

A golf course can be a tricky place for a Minister of the Crown. On the one hand the demands of the job leave little time for practice, so that whenever I step forward to the tee I risk suffering one of the various forms of humiliation that the game of golf can hand to players at any level of experience.

And on the other hand there are the official games with visiting dignitaries where, to add to the usual uncertainties of the course, there is invariably a team of diplomats and officials whose job it is to decide hole by hole what outcome is best for the interests of the country.

What a pleasure then to play a relaxed round of golf in a tournament whose real winners are the beneficiaries of a worthy charity. Having said that, I am sure competition was tough on the course today, particularly in light of the seven members of Womens Golf NZ's High Performance squad who participated and who I am sure took no prisoners.

The Rotarians have a proud tradition of pragmatic public service and quiet activism on behalf of causes which, while not necessarily flavour of the month, are of lasting humanitarian concern. Rotary's involvement with the Global Polio Eradication Programme over a number of years is that kind of initiative.

It reminds us - or should remind us - that what strengthens and maintains our civil society is not so much the decisions made in this building, but the dedication and imagination of service organisations such as Rotary, working throughout our communities, year in, year out.

It also lays the groundwork for enduring partnerships between government and independent private organisations. As some of you may be aware, the Hon Marian Hobbs announced last night that the NZ Agency for International Development is to give Rotary New Zealand World Community Service $600,000 for the Global Polio Eradication Programme. And a further $1million is being given through other agencies to the same project. In this way, all New Zealanders will share in the work of Rotary New Zealand World Community Service.

I trust that this year's ING New Zealand Rotarians Prime Minister's Cup will prove as successful and as pleasurable as previous events. And on the Prime Minister's behalf I would like to congratulate the prizewinners on their success, but also all the unsuccessful participants in the day's events (no doubt you are endlessly repeating those missed shots in your heads), and in particular the organisers who have given of their time over many months.

Thank you.

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