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English backflips puzzle Dunne

English backflips puzzle Dunne

United Future leader Peter Dunne, who chairs Parliament's foreign affairs, defence and trade select committee, said today he was bewildered at National leader Bill English's latest comments on trade and foreign policy.

"Mr English said on National Radio this morning that 'they [the US] are at pains...to say that both the Iraqi war type decision and the nuclear policy are separate from how they treat trade. In fact, one of the things that's come through is that the US only does trade agreements where it believes there is a net economic benefit to the US' ."

Mr Dunne noted that "These comments come on the back of Mr English initially accusing the Government of ruining New Zealand's chances of securing a free trade agreement with the United States because of its stance on Iraq and related comments by the Prime Minister.

"Then last week, in a turnaround of acrobatic proportions, Mr English ironically accused the Government of attempting to "curry favour" with the US with its announcement of the deployment of armed forces personnel in Iraq and a bolstering of the force in Afghanistan.

"Now he has done a further volte-face and appears to have admitted that the Government's recent actions are immaterial to the prospects of securing a free trade deal with the US alongside the Australians.

"Mr English said this morning that 'if New Zealand had been able to come to the table alongside Australia, then we would be getting an FTA, but that fell off the table two or three years back'.

"It's all very reminiscent of Mr English's renowned 'Af-gaffe' when, to the astonishment of his National Party colleagues, he unexpectedly called for the withdrawal of New Zealand armed forces from Afghanistan, only to change his mind two hours later and blame the whole foul-up on his own staff.

"Political observers have noted that one of Mr English's problems is that he doesn't appear to believe in his own policies - today's utterances don't do anything to dispel this view.

"While New Zealand waits for National to decide whether it agrees with the Government's policy or not, United Future's stance has always been clear: We need to stop the domestic slanging matches and redouble our efforts to maintain good relations with the United States and advance our free trade agenda," concluded Mr Dunne.

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