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NZ 'Displeases' US Administration Says Downer

NZ 'Displeases' US Administration Says Australian Minister

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer's throwaway comment yesterday that he did not believe New Zealand was likely to be attacked by the United States is a very revealing statement, ACT New Zealand Leader Richard Prebble said today.

"Mr Downer said in a throwaway line at a press conference that although New Zealand was a country that displeased the US, it was not at risk of being attacked by the Coalition of the Willing.

"Of course it was meant as a joke, but many a true word has been said in jest. What Downer really revealed is what our former ally Australia thinks of New Zealand. That the Australian Foreign Minister could cite New Zealand as a well-known example of a nation that is no longer a friend of the United States shows our foreign policies cause considerable annoyance, and New Zealand is clearly seen as being completely on the outer.

"Our own Prime Minister, on her annual outing to Europe, has been reduced to claiming that she is going there to `forge relationships with the ten new members of the EC'. In fact she is going to Brussels to meet the Belgian Prime Minister - the man with the dubious distinction of being cited by Helen Clark as an example of a western leader who has made even stronger anti-American statements than she has.

"Downer's statement shouldn't be dismissed by thinking New Zealanders. The Australian Government - following the convention of not openly criticising the policies of another democracy - will never state publicly what Ministers privately believe. Downer's statement is an insight into the real standing of Helen Clark, the Labour Government and unfortunately the rest of New Zealand, in the eyes of our most important trading partner, Australia," Mr Prebble said.

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