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New spokesman, new nuke flip-flopper for Nats

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

25 August 2005
Media statement

New spokesman, new nuke flip-flopper for Nats

National's latest foreign affairs spokesman, Gerry Brownlee, has slipped deftly into his party's well-established ability to flip-flop over New Zealand's nuclear-free legislation, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

"National's stance on the nuclear question has changed so often recently that the only thing voters can be sure of is that National's latest stance, like their previous policies, will probably be gone by lunchtime," Mr Goff said.

"It appears former foreign affairs spokesman Lockwood Smith has been sent to the corner to join Simon Power in the wake of his think-tank gaffe. In his place is a man who has had an epiphany over New Zealand's nuclear-free legislation.

"Keeping track of National's nuclear 'policy' requires real mental agility. First Don Brash said publicly there was no demand for change; then he promised privately that it would be gone by lunchtime; then he committed National to holding a referendum; then he said an election win would be a mandate to scrap the legislation, and now he is back to holding a referendum.

"That line has now been embraced by Gerry Brownlee, who said on Nine to Noon (Radio NZ) today that it would be 'unconscionable' to contemplate changing the legislation without first holding a referendum.

"That is Mr Brownlee's second about-face on the issue. In September 2002, he said New Zealanders were proud of their anti-nuclear legislation and 'I can't see in the foreseeable future that changing'.

"Sadly Gerry's foresight was poor because just four months later he had changed his mind and gone public with a call to scrap New Zealand's nuclear ships ban.

"The Labour government, which is unambiguously committed to maintaining New Zealand's nuclear-free legislation, welcomes Mr Brownlee's apparent change of heart on this issue, which comes just a day after the latest public opinion poll confirmed that two-thirds of New Zealanders oppose scrapping the legislation.

"The problem is, what do Gerry and Don really believe? That the nuclear-free legislation is a good thing, or that it should be gone by lunchtime? And whatever National's view is today, will it still be their policy tomorrow?" Mr Goff said.


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