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Mapp Speech To National Party Conference

Dr Wayne Mapp National Party Conference

Fifty years ago Sir Edmund Hillary climbed Everest. He exemplified everything that New Zealanders admire - true grit and a determination to succeed. His life is greatly admired, not just his triumphs 50 years ago, but his lifelong commitment to helping others, without fanfare. He is our ideal New Zealander. His life reflects our idealised view of the best of our intentions as a national and international citizen.

New Zealanders have an optimistic view of the world. We believe good intentions will achieve good outcomes. We want to be the model country that does good works, that works co-operatively with a wide range of countries. The goal has been to build a broad range of relationships, that will minimise conflict through dialogue.

The immediate post Cold War period fostered this approach. Conflict would cease, peace would be the universal paradigm. Altruistic deeds would be admired. The United Nations would be the impartial arbiter of disputes.

But September 11 changed everything. We now know that there are enemies out there. Open democratic societies have to be vigilant in their fight against terrorism. Friends and allies matter. Key relationships matter and must be carefully nurtured.

Yet the Labour Government still acts as if the world has not changed. As recently as 2001 Helen Clark spoke of an incredibly benign environment in our part of the world. That is why every international issue is laid before the god of multi-lateralism, and the United Nations - from Iraq to the Solomons.

The essential question is how do we protect our fundamental values and interests in a difficult world, able to act with idealism, but also realistically? And therein is the choice between National and Labour. A realistic determination to defend the values and interests of our country, or a naïve idealism caught up in a time-warp that belongs to student idealism of the 1960's.

Our fundamental value is freedom. That means defending open democratic society. We are naturally most closely allied to those who share these values, and with whom we share so much history. Prosperity is built upon the foundation of freedom, the freedom to believe, the freedom to act, and the freedom to trade. These are the core values of National. We ally ourselves with those who share these beliefs. New Zealand, Australia, Britain and the United States have acted together to defend freedom for 100 years.

It is to be expected that we will have the closest relationships with these countries. We should expect to act in concert with them on the big issues. That is why Labour was wrong about Iraq. When Britain, Australia and the United States act together, we need a better excuse than United Nations multi-lateralism not to stand with them. These are our most fundamental allies. Ultimately our security depends on their willingness to work with us. Right now this is difficult. We cannot train with United States forces. We have a limited defence partnership with Australia.

National is committed to rebuilding these critical relationships.

Building our core relationships is essential in achieving the key requirements of New Zealand foreign policy; * To ensure our own security * To protect our region * To be partners in fostering open competitive trade

Our security can only be guaranteed in partnership with our friends and allies. That is why National has put so much effort into re-examining the relationship with the United States. It is why the Task Force led by Wyatt Creech is doing a careful and thorough job on the issue.

It is in New Zealand's interests to have a greatly improved relationship with the United States, in short to be an ally. At the moment we have all the obligations of an alliance partner, without the benefits; whether these benefits be in security, relationships and trade.

In our own region New Zealand and Australia have a clear leadership role. A lesson to be learned from Bougainville and the Solomons is the need for early involvement in order to avoid the need for the direct intervention now required in the Solomons. It will require a more honest relationship with the Pacific States to help them achieve good governance and the basics for economic growth. Some of our island neighbours are succeeding; others are not. However, if we are unable to avoid the failed state syndrome, we will inevitably head toward intervention in Papua New Guinea. But a collapse in PNG would quite possibly be beyond the capacity of Australia and New Zealand to reverse. Therefore we need clear policy to ensure that it does not happen.

Open society and prosperity means free trade. This is now widely understood in New Zealand. Virtually everyone supports the efforts of the World Trade Organisation. But in this more uncertain world, full scale multi-lateral trade deals are harder to achieve. It is one of the reasons why so much effort is going into bilateral agreements. Australia will achieve a free trade agreement with the United States. It is very clear that New Zealand is going to have to wait, quite probably for years. There is simply no energy in the United States administration for New Zealand to be at the head of the queue. That is reserved for allies. Being a friend, even a very good friend, is not the same as being an ally, even when we are actively engaged in the same causes.

New Zealand also needs to look wider than the United States for free trade. It is surely in our interests to look at the free trade opportunities with Asian nations. If Japan and Korea can start free trade negotiations, we need to point out the complementary nature of New Zealand's temperate agricultural economy with Asian industrial economies.

New Zealand needs a fresh look at the way we conduct our foreign relations.

* More regard to our fundamental security relationships with countries that have been our partners for over 100 years.

* A more active approach in the South Pacific, so that we don't wait for the Pacific States to fail.

* A keener awareness of the possibilities for free trade, including making the critical changes that are essential in actually achieving them.

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