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Government Must Take Its Head Out Of The Sand

Government Must Take Its Head Out Of The Sand

ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader Ken Shirley today expressed concern over the Government's disturbing response to US Ambassador Swindells' speech, labelling it a harbinger of Labour's determination to pursue an isolationist policy.

"Prime Minister Helen Clark's clear inability to confront her ghosts will cost New Zealand dearly. It was she who led the Labour Party's anti-US cabal in the 1980s, and it was this group that was determined to add the unnecessary Clause 11 to the 1987 legislation aimed at destroying the ANZUS Alliance," Mr Shirley said.

"The nuclear propulsion ban has always been a needless clip-on to our bold anti-nuclear stance. The world has changed, however, and - with the end of the Cold War - so too has the US. Yet Labour staunchly adheres to the past and refuses to `move on'.

"The US has abandoned its neither confirm nor deny policy. There has been a massive de-escalation of nuclear weaponry, and surface naval ships no longer carry nuclear weapons. The New Zealand Government's own review (The Somers Report) on the safety of nuclear-powered ships concluded that there is no environmental or public safety reason to continue the ban, and that nuclear propulsion is considerably safer than conventional power.

"The ball is in Labour's court, and Ambassador Swindells' speech was a comprehensive message from Washington to remind us of that. I am calling on the National Party to get off the fence and declare its policy on this important issue.

"The centre-right in New Zealand politics must show leadership. We must restore hope to the public that we can mend our bridges and re-establish our close relationship with the US for our mutual benefit, future prosperity and security," Mr Shirley said.

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