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Dail Jones: Foreign Policy Forum Speech

16 August 2005

Address by Dail Jones MP, Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs to the Auckland Branch of the

New Zealand Institute of International Affairs (NZIIA)
University of Auckland Campus
Library Lecture Theatre B28 (Lib B28)

Tuesday 16 August 2005 at 6.00pm

FOREIGN POLICY FORUM

New Zealand First’s policy on foreign affairs is founded on the principle that the interests of New Zealand and New Zealanders are paramount.

We believe we adopt an approach to international relations which is tough minded, independent and integrated. Our policy affirms and enhances our country’s traditional relationships, while recognising the emergence of a global economy, and the realities of regional and international politics.


UNITED NATIONS

We will continue to be a strong supporter of the United Nations. One of the issues before the United Nations at the moment is the question of the extension of the number of permanent members of the Security Council. The question whether there should be an extension of the permanent members at all must also be considered.
New Zealand First’s approach to this issue would be based on the policy of applicant countries to the Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Countries in the running, such as Japan and India, have not given their full support (if any) to the Treaty and New Zealand First would not be inclined to support them.

INTERNATIONAL CONFLICT

We believe that diplomacy is always the first option to resolve international conflict with the use of military force only as a final resort when all other means have been exhausted. In this context we did not and do not support the deployment of New Zealand troops in support of the “invasion” of Iraq. That said, we whole-heartedly supported New Zealand’s involvement in restoring peace and the infrastructure of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Modern communications and modern travel have made it possible for all countries on our planet to communicate quickly and efficiently at a single venue such as the United Nations, with a view to resolving international problems at a diplomatic level rather than by using force.

PEACEKEEPING

We are fully supportive of our Defence Forces being utilised in any regional peacekeeping role.

It is our policy to work towards funding our Defence Forces at a level of 2% of gross domestic product rather than the present figure which is less than 1%.

The policies of successive governments have almost dismantled our Defence Forces and the trend must be reversed.

New Zealand First thought the closure of Wigram was a fundamentally flawed decision; we opposed the closure of Hobsonville and are fully committed to retaining Whenuapai as a Military Base. It is basic common sense to ensure that you do not have all your eggs in one basket. The location of almost the entire RNZAF at Ohakea is not in New Zealand First’s view smart, from either a strategic or a tactical of point of view. Our full Defence Policy is set out on our website at www.nzfirst.org.nz

Our foreign policy must take into account the fact that we are a maritime nation with considerable maritime protection responsibilities and a role to play in the South Pacific and South East Asia in times of civil emergency or war. We are committed to building and maintaining a professional and effective Defence Force appropriate to our size that is self sufficient and capable of operating with maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

We wish to continue to honour, maintain and build upon existing defence agreements and particularly the closer defence relationships with Australia as a cornerstone of our bilateral security arrangements.

INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM
The terrorist attacks in New York, and very recently in London are crimes against humanity and New Zealand First is fully supportive of steps to bring the culprits to justice.

We recognise the new threats posed by international terrorism and rouge nations. We have given support to suppression of terrorism legislation and I am a Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee which is looking at the review of this legislation. This is not to say that we blindly support any legislation which relates to terrorism suppression.

I took the opportunity in Parliament on the recent debate on the terrorism suppression legislation to question that aspect of the legislation relating to charitable donations to be used in, say, the Tamil Tigers controlled area of SriLanka or in Aceh, Indonesia.
The wording seemed to suggest that any New Zealander who made a donation, which could then be spent in the Tamil Tigers controlled area, or in Aceh, Indonesia, for example, might make that New Zealander a supporter of a terrorism activity.

NUCLEAR FREE POLICY

New Zealand First is committed to a nuclear-free policy and does not support the entry to New Zealand of nuclear propelled and armed warships. Incidentally, we also oppose the building of nuclear power stations for electricity generation purposes.

SOUTH PACIFIC

We are especially interested in enhancing the special New Zealand association and interest in the South Pacific region.

There is a limit to the influence which New Zealand can have and as a good neighbour we make the Pacific the major focus of our attention. Some of you may have read the recent parliamentary committee report on Tonga.

We have to make sure that we do not adopt a patronising or interfering attitude to our Pacific neighbours. This is one of the reasons why New Zealand First added a minority report to one part of the Tonga report because we felt that the Foreign Affairs committee had crossed the line and was involving itself in the internal affairs of Tonga.

OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE

One of the most important aspects of foreign affairs policy must be the question of overseas development assistance. Once again, the South Pacific region is the one on which we concentrate but we take the view that aid must be focused on facilitating priority projects and the alleviation of poverty.

There must be times, however, when we break away from our emphasis on the South Pacific region and give extra assistance to those countries which experience a natural disaster which causes great havoc in their region.


IRAN

Inevitably New Zealand will be drawn into the situation now evolving in Iran. Clearly the prize in Iran is its oil reserves. Oil was discovered in Iran/Persia in 1908; the British obtained a concession which was cancelled as a result of the United States and Soviet Union intervention in the mid 1920’s. The Coup in 1953 against the Iranian Government inspired by the British and the CIA soured Iran’s relationships with those Countries.

The Eisenhower-Dulles Governments and a succession of American Governments have not achieved any positive results. New Zealand, I seem to recall was positively involved in the freeing of the United States Hostages but my memory might be wrong on that respect.

The question of Iran’s nuclear energy programme has been closely monitored by Foreign Affairs and is often the subject of discussion at the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

I am confident that our Foreign Affairs department is keeping a close watch on the matter and is doing all it can in keeping with New Zealand First policy which is opposed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The world is a strange place and not too long ago the United States and its NATO allies supported Iraq in a war against Iran; a war in which they supplied Iraq with weapons and technology of mass destruction. We are not in favour of armed intervention in Iran but would support placement of permanent observers by the UN to internally monitor Iraq’s plans to generate energy from nuclear plants.

The Iranian/Persian’s have a history much longer than that of the Anglo Saxon and are deservedly proud of it. New Zealand First has opposed the War against Iraq and there is no reason why it should not adopt a similar stance in so far as opposing a war against Iran is concerned. In any event, I am not aware of any Country which has suggested there should be one.

CONCLUSION

I believe New Zealand First has demonstrated its ability to adopt an independent tough-minded approach to foreign affairs when confronted with the issues of the day. Our nuclear free policy, our ability to manage our relationships with other countries in Asia at the time of the Korean economic crisis, when we were a Government coalition partner, our support for troops in Afghanistan and yet our independent attitude towards the Iraqi situation shows we have a mature approach to foreign affairs.

This is no doubt influenced by the backgrounds of the 13 Members of Parliament of New Zealand First, two of whom are former soldiers having served in South East Asia and the Middle East, (the only former Servicemen in Parliament) and many of whom have had the benefit of extensive overseas travel and overseas contacts.

We believe we have established a high standard in matters pertaining to foreign affairs and we intend to ensure that this standard is maintained.

ENDS

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