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End nuclear nonsense - restore ANZUS

9 June 2005

End nuclear nonsense - restore ANZUS

Ken Shirley Thursday, Press Releases - Foreign Affairs

Finally Parliament will have an opportunity to reverse the foolish clause 11 of the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone Disarmament and Arms Control Act of 1987, ACT MP Ken Shirley said in response to his private members bill being drawn from the ballot today.

“My private members bill does not advocate lifting the ban on nuclear weapons, but removes clause 11 of the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone Disarmament and Arms Control Act 1987 which was implemented in a mood of chest thumping bravado. It is now time to display more maturity,” Mr Shirley said.

Clause 11 states: ‘Entry into the internal waters of New Zealand by any ship whose propulsion is wholly or partly dependent on nuclear power is prohibited.’

“The ban is the final obstacle to New Zealand re-establishing participation in the ANZUS alliance, which is clearly in our strategic interest. Re-establishing our ANZUS commitment would put us on equal footing with Australia in negotiating an FTA with the United States. Economists have calculated that this would bring an additional $1 billion to the New Zealand economy each year.

“When last in Opposition, National campaigned to remove the ban but, on becoming Government, failed to act. A special committee was established, chaired by Rt Hon Sir Edward Somers, and comprising prominent academics Profs Patricia Bergquist, David Elms

and Alan Poletti. Their report, presented to Prime Minister Jim Bolger in 1992, concluded:

 The presence in New Zealand ports of US and UK naval nuclear- propelled vessels would be safe. The likelihood of any damaging emission or discharge of radioactive material was so remote it could not give rise to any rational apprehension for the public or environment. Nor would they post any significant risk to the national environment.

 There has never been an accident in a propulsion reactor involving a significant release of radiation in a US or UK naval vessel. Neither the public nor the environment has ever been endangered by a radiation release.

 The experience of other countries hosting visits by nuclear powered vessels of the UK and US navies has been that no release of radiation to either atmosphere or the sea have been detected by any monitoring agencies.

“This report also revealed that, each day, Auckland hospital emits more than twice the radiation emitted in a year from the entire US fleet and support facilities. There is no environmental or health reason to continue the nonsensical nuclear propulsion ban. Lifting it would allow us to shake off the self-imposed shackles of the past two decades.

“I note that Don Brash initially stated publicly that this ban on nuclear propelled ship visits would be ‘gone by lunchtime’ under a National Government, but subsequently the National Party once again backed down on this commitment failing to embrace the recommendations of Wyatt Creech’s review.

“Two years ago a senior US official Grant Aldonas stated in Auckland: ‘Access to New Zealand ports by US naval vessels is now of strategic importance in the war on terror’.

“Our proximity to the Antarctic continent is also of importance with nuclear propelled ice-breakers the most efficient means of providing the critical access for vitally important research programmes.

“Whichever way you look at this issue there is no sound justification for continuing the ban on nuclear propelled ship visits. I call on all Members of Parliament to rise above meaningless slogans and mantras and support my bill,” Mr Shirley said.

Mr Shirley said that assuming Parliament takes urgency next week, then the next Members day and first reading of his bill will be on Wednesday 27th July.

ENDS

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