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Labour again puts politics before country

Hon Dr Lockwood Smith
National Party Foreign Affairs & Trade Spokesman
29 July 2005

Labour again puts politics before country

Labour has again put politics ahead of New Zealand’s best interests by successfully campaigning for Tim Groser to be replaced as chairman of the Agriculture Committee at the World Trade Organisation, says National’s Foreign Affairs & Trade spokesman, Lockwood Smith.

“Labour has acted in a fit of pique because Tim Groser is standing as a National candidate in the general election.

“In pushing for him to be replaced – in what I understand was a vicious campaign in Geneva – while the negotiations on agriculture are so finely balanced, Labour has put at serious risk the success of the round, on which New Zealand depends so much.

“National was prepared to put New Zealand’s interests first in allowing Tim to continue in Geneva while serving as an MP, but Labour is more interested in playing politics.

“The talks are worth billions to us and will ultimately affect the living standard of every New Zealander. The work of the Agriculture Committee is at the heart of progress. If the Agriculture Committee fails, the entire Doha trade round will fail.

“The only WTO member countries who might benefit from Helen Clark’s undermining of Tim Groser will be those who want to protect their agricultural sector from our more efficient agricultural trade. For Helen Clark to give comfort to such countries is the height of disloyalty to her country.

“Despite the risks Labour has created, New Zealand is fortunate that the WTO has appointed New Zealander Crawford Falconer to replace Tim as chair of the Agriculture Committee.

“I have complete confidence in Mr Falconer. He has the experience to do a fine job. But replacing Tim Groser only weeks out from the Hong Kong meeting places an immense burden on him – he doesn’t have much time to come up to speed and to build the trust of member countries,” Dr Smith says.

“Taking the agriculture negotiations forward was going to be a demanding task for anyone, but causing the chair to be replaced right now is a very risky move.”

ENDS

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