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ACT Welcomes Tonga Inquiry

Tuesday 25 Nov 2003
Ken Shirley
Press Releases -- Foreign Affairs & Defence

ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader Ken Shirley today welcomed news that the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee is to hold an inquiry into New Zealand's relationship with Tonga, saying that - as Pacific neighbours - the futures of both countries are inseparable.

"New Zealand has much more to do to address the prevailing situation in Tonga, whose society and governance is the anti-thesis of classical liberalism," Mr Shirley said.

"ACT has long believed that Tonga represents the worst of two conflicting cultures - medieval European monarchy grafted onto Polynesian nepotism and chieftainship. It is vital that we ensure that any foreign aid we send is distributed properly.

"Tonga is headed for revolution and bloodshed. We trained Tonga's police and armed forces and have a responsibility to the Tongan people - both those living in Tonga and New Zealand - in the likelihood that their nobles will use these forces to defend their privilege.

"We do not, as Prime Minister Helen Clark believes, live in a benign strategic environment. The South Pacific has experienced growing tensions as island nations experience the painful and uncertain transition from tribal societies to democracy and open market economies.

"As Tonga's Pacific neighbour - and a destination for many of its people seeking work and education opportunities - it is fitting that we look at our relationship with Tonga, and reassess what foreign aid we contribute to that troubled kingdom," Mr Shirley said.


For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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