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Stand on Black Cap tour welcome, should go further

Govt stand on Black Cap tour welcome but should go further

The Greens have welcomed the Government's official opposition to the Black Caps' tour of Zimbabwe, but are disappointed it has not explored avenues to prevent the tour from going ahead.

Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff confirmed in Parliament this afternoon, in response to oral questions from Green Co-Leader Rod Donald, that the Government would prefer the Black Caps not go to Zimbabwe.

"I applaud the Government for stating in unequivocal terms that it does not want the Black Caps to go to Zimbabwe," Mr Donald said. "This is a welcome extension of the Prime Minister's personal view, stated last month, that the tour should not go ahead."

But Mr Donald said the Government should be investigating every possible avenue available to prevent the tour from proceeding.

In a meeting with the Prime Minister last week, Mr Donald raised the issue of NZ Cricket's contract with the International Cricket Council. In the contract, there are several circumstances, called 'force majeure', in which NZC could pull out of the tour without financial penalty.

One of these circumstances is "any action taken by a governmental or public authority of any kind, including, without limitation, not granting a consent, exemption, approval or clearance or imposing any restriction or prohibition".

"We've asked the Government to get its lawyers to look into the 'force majeure' provision," Mr Donald said. "I'm disappointed the minister has not yet looked into the steps he could take that would allow NZC to pull out of the tour without fear of financial penalty."

Mr Goff also advised the House, under questioning from Mr Donald, that he has written to NZC advising it of actions it could take to ensure the tour is not exploited by Robert Mugabe for political purposes.

"Mr Goff's is right to be concerned that 'if they decide to go ahead with the tour they might be drawn into situations where they are wrongly portrayed as endorsing the Mugabe regime". But surely, given Mugabe is the patron of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union, any cricket tour to Zimbabwe will give this despicable despot both comfort and legitimacy he doesn't deserve?

"Mugabe will likely attend some of the matches and use the presence of players from New Zealand to bolster his reputation. The only moral thing to do is for the New Zealand players not to turn up in the first place."

Mr Donald also asked Mr Goff to tell Black Caps captain Stephen Fleming why a boycott of the Zimbabwe tour would be worthwhile.

"After the Black Caps' impressive second test victory over Sri Lanka last month, Stephen Fleming told reporters that he would consider a boycott if he believed it would make a difference. Mr Goff should be on the phone to Fleming telling him that the Government believes a boycott would make a difference, and would increase the pressure on Mugame's brutal regime.

"As the guardian of New Zealand's international reputation, Mr Goff has a responsibility to give Fleming guidance on this matter," Mr Donald said.


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