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Tokelau vote a waste of time and money

John Hayes MP

National Party Associate Foreign Affairs Spokesman

17 February 2006

Tokelau vote a waste of time and money

The Labour Government has wasted a huge amount of taxpayer money conducting the ill-advised independence vote for the Tokelaus, says National Party Associate Foreign Affairs spokesman John Hayes.

"Foreign Affairs, its former Minister, Phil Goff, who gave his initial blessing to the vote, and new Foreign Ministers Peters who gave the final authorisation, have wasted taxpayer funds in what is nothing more than an exercise in stupidity.

"How on Earth did anyone ever think that 1500 people living on three atolls 400 kilometres across the ocean from Samoa would have sufficient cash surplus as a group to afford the cost of self-government.

"The bureaucrats who recommended this process and the Ministers who blindly accepted it have lost their grip on common sense and reality.

"Foreign Affairs, it seems, does not learn from its mistakes. Niue was forced down the same path, and the same process failed them.

"Given this background, why would Phil Goff and Winston Peters not question the ideas and recommendations put to them by officials? Papers released under the OIA show that not one question was asked.

"The papers show that Phil Goff sent Taito Philip Field as a bag carrier to Tokelau. Why did he not question the process? Did he not ask himself what was going on here?

"I will be drawing this to the attention of the foreign affairs select committee and will ask for an inquiry into this and wider Pacific policy-making so we stop making the same mistakes," says Mr Hayes.

"I am in no doubt, after reviewing all the documents, that there was a lack of rigour and common sense in the thought processes of Foreign Affairs and the Ministers involved. If they can't get their game right in the Pacific, where can they?"

ENDS

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