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Meeting an opportunity not to be squandered

Dr Hon Lockwood Smith National Trade Spokesman

1 March 2004

Meeting an opportunity not to be squandered

Tomorrow's annual meeting between Helen Clark and Australian Prime Minister John Howard is an opportunity not to be squandered, says National's Trade and Foreign Affairs spokesman, Lockwood Smith.

"Over the past four years the Labour Government has given Canberra the impression that New Zealand is becoming unreliable.

"It speaks volumes that Australia did not want New Zealand anywhere near their free trade deal with the United States

"New Zealand's economy is deeply interwoven with Australia. It is our number one market, and working towards closer relations with our trans-Tasman cousins should be at the forefront of the Government's economic strategy.

"Instead, Labour is squandering economic opportunities such as the free trade deal.

"And our defence relationship is no better.

"Once our closest ally, Australia now sees us as a burden - failing to pull our weight on defence and security issues. Many in Canberra now view New Zealand as increasingly irrelevant.

"It's a perception our Prime Minister should be working hard to fix. Instead she is fuelling the fire by failing to support our closest ally.

"Some Australians think New Zealand has simply wandered away. The truth is, Helen Clark's leadership has set us adrift in dangerous waters," says Dr Smith.


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