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New law needed to stop cricket tour

New law needed to stop cricket tour

Green Co-Leader Rod Donald is seeking cross-party support for a Bill that would make all New Zealand sporting tours to Zimbabwe illegal and would prevent all Zimbabwean sporting sides from touring New Zealand.

The Zimbabwe Sporting Sanction Bill, which Mr Donald has drafted, would make it an offence for any New Zealand national sporting organisation to send a team on a tour of Zimbabwe. If any team defied the law, their national body would be fined $50,000 and have all its government funding revoked for one financial year.

"New Zealanders don't want the Black Caps to tour Zimbabwe and they don't want NZ Cricket punished financially if the tour is called off," Mr Donald said. "This Green Bill offers the best of both worlds: it stops the tour and gets NZ Cricket off the hook with regard to any ICC fine.

"I have drafted the Bill in such a way that it preserves the freedoms of individual New Zealanders enshrined in the Bill of Rights Act. The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that no national sports team can give comfort to Robert Mugabe's genocidal regime, bringing New Zealand into disrepute and opening us up to the accusation that we are failing to live up to our international human rights commitments.

"NZ Cricket's Future Tours Agreement explicitly states that where a government action makes it illegal for a national team to undertake a tour of another country, then that team is not liable for any financial penalty. As such, this Bill will ensure that NZ Cricket will be able to pull out of the Zimbabwe tour and avoid any financial penalty."

Mr Donald said the extraordinary human rights abuses being inflicted on the people of Zimbabwe by Robert Mugabe required swift legislative action on the part of New Zealand's Parliament.

"I don't propose this legislation lightly, but there is no alternative. We have run out of options and we are running out of time.

"I will be offering my Bill to the Government, and will be urging it to place it number one on the Order Paper so that it can pass through all stages immediately Parliament resumes. With the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders now opposed to the Black Caps playing cricket in Zimbabwe, I hope all parties in Parliament will give their support to the speedy passage of this Bill."

Mr Donald said he had contacted the offices of Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff, Progressive Leader Jim Anderton and National Leader Don Brash about the Bill and would be attempting to get the Bill to all party leaders today.

"Labour, the Progressives and National have all taken public stands against the tour, and the Greens look forward to working with them and all other parties."

He would be seeking meetings early this week with the Minister and representatives of other political parties to try to build cross-party support for the Green Party initiative.

"I indicated to Mr Goff in discussions we had last week that I was exploring the option of legislation and I hope the Labour/Progressive Government takes up our offer to use this Bill. While I have been pleased at his diplomatic efforts to increase the international pressure on Zimbabwe, I am not confident any of them will be able to stop this tour."

The Green Party's Bill would need to proceed quickly through Parliament when the House reconvenes on July 26 to prevent the Black Caps' tour from going ahead because the team is scheduled to leave for Zimbabwe in early August.

"This very tight timeframe means we will need the cooperation of most parties to ensure that the Bill's passage through Parliament is quick and seamless. During consultations with other parties this week, I shall try to gain their commitment to support this measure when Parliament resumes. This will enable the Government to advise NZ Cricket by the end of the week to cancel the tour because it will soon be illegal to proceed."

Mr Donald said the Bill ensured all New Zealanders would retain their individual human rights, guaranteed by the Bill of Rights Act 1990, to travel to Zimbabwe.

"The Greens are committed to protecting the human rights of all Kiwis, and we were very careful in drafting this Bill to ensure that it does not infringe on any of those rights. That is why the Bill states explicitly that nothing in it affects an individual's rights under the Bill of Rights Act 1990.

"For example, individual New Zealanders seeking to travel to Zimbabwe for their own purposes, whether as journalists to expose Robert Mugabe's heinous crimes or as charity workers to help poor Zimbabweans, will continue to be free to do so. This Bill targets sporting organizations purporting to represent New Zealand, not individuals."

The Bill also requires the Immigration Minister to deny the visas of any players representing Zimbabwean sporting sides seeking to enter New Zealand.

"This Bill is about much more than the Black Caps' tour next month, and it will affect all New Zealand national sporting organizations, not just NZ Cricket. It will cut all sporting ties between Zimbabwe and New Zealand, until such time the human rights abuses stop."

"If anyone doubts the necessity for this Bill, they should read the speech Judith Todd, whose New Zealand-born father Garfield was Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, gave to the Cape Town Press Club last week.

"In her speech, Ms Todd called Mugabe's regime 'genocidal' because it is deliberately trying to starve millions of people to death so that only Mugabe supporters are left.

"She told the Press Club that Mugabe's Operation Murambatsvina was designed to kill his opponents en masse. Ms Todd said: 'If, in bitter winter, you deprive people and their children of shelter and thus also their food and clothing and warmth, if you deprive them of their tools of trade and their means of survival you do this for one reason only: you intend them to die.'"

Rod Donald, MP

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