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Too Little Too Late

Too Little Too Late

ACT Leader Richard Prebble said today New Zealand was continuing to pay a heavy price for our failure to contribute to the Coalition of the Willing. Peace keeping in Iraq could be time consuming, very expensive, dangerous and certainly, a thankless task.

"Helen Clark's determination to wait for the UN just means that the political payback for contributing will be lower and the costs will be higher.

"The politically smart thing to do would be to offer peacekeepers now under the coalition, and tag it, like Australia has, that once the UN moves in, our interim peacekeepers move out. That would be the low-cost, high reward option, with the added advantage that they would be doing a job that is needed.

"Contributing an Orion to augment the Friagte in the Gulf brings New Zealand no political benefit. Our Prime Minister keeps insisting that the Frigate, and now an Orion are somehow contributing solely to stopping terrorism from Afghanistan, and this is completely separate from the allies' operation in Iraq.

"It is nonsense of course. American General, Tommy Franks, has overall command and the Orion and the Frigate are of course of some assistance to the Coalition of the Willing. But New Zealand will get no political credit for this because we insist that (contrary to the fact) our contribution is of no assistance to the United States.

"It is clear that the New Zealand Government is looking for a way in which it can make a peacekeeping contribution while at the same time being consistent with their pre-Iraq war statements. Already the government has moved a long way; aid is now being given to Iraq even though the UN is not in control.

"It is also clear that a primary driver for this change in policy to find a way to prepare the damage done to NZ Anglo-American relations. The longer the Cabinet takes, the more it is going to cost the country for Helen Clark's reckless statements.

"In contrast to the position in which New Zealand now finds itself, Australia is enjoying a considerable political payback to what was really quite a small military contribution. Australia's contribution is now ended. New Zealand's has only just started," said Mr Prebble.

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