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Does Labour have any human rights bottom lines?

1 June 2005

Does Labour have any human rights bottom lines?

The Greens are accusing the once-proud Labour Party of selling out its human rights principles for a free-trade deal with China.

"Helen Clark has said from Beijing that she did not think New Zealand should avoid a trade deal with China because of its human rights record," Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald said. "This is despite just being censored by the Chinese government during a CNN interview on human rights."

"Today in Parliament, Acting Prime Minister Michael Cullen refused to outline any human rights bottom lines to the Government's trade policy. All he would say is that, if the Government only traded with countries that it agreed with totally, New Zealand wouldn't even trade with Australia and the USA.

"Cullen and Clark deliberately miss the point. We're not asking the Government to stop trading with China. At issue here is whether New Zealand should give a preferential trade deal to one of the world's worst human rights abusers.

"This is a far cry from the Helen Clark of old, who said when elected leader of the Labour Party in 1994, 'The collapse of apartheid did not occur in the 1990s without significant international pressure ... the systematic violation of human rights in South Africa was eventually taken very seriously by the international community, but it took many years, through a combination of economic and other sanctions, and diplomatic pressure, to bear fruit'.

"Was she right then? Yes, she was. Is she right now? No, she is not," Mr Donald said.


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