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National way off the mark over Tokelau vote

Rt Hon Winston Peters - Minister of Foreign Affairs

21 February 2006

National way off the mark over Tokelau vote

National's new Foreign Affairs spokesperson Murray McCully needs to quickly reign in his rogue associate spokesperson John Hayes who has made both ill-informed and poorly advised remarks about the recent referendum in Tokelau, says Foreign Minister Winston Peters.

"As a former senior MFAT official Mr Hayes should have known better than to make such patently ignorant comments. He would surely have known that this process is not a discretionary matter – that Article 73 of the UN Charter obliges New Zealand to assist Tokelau to attain a full measure of self-government," said Mr Peters.

"Mr Hayes must have known that this process has taken more than three decades and has been supported by successive governments over that period – including National led governments. It was also the Tokelauan National Assembly that in 2003 by unanimous vote formally requested that New Zealand explore the option of self-government in free association.

"Is Mr Hayes suggesting that National has not in the past supported Tokelau determining the direction and the pace of its political development?

"Mr Hayes is now openly undermining both his leader's and Mr McCully's credibility on this issue. It is not a good start for National's foreign affairs team in addressing Pacific issues.

"If Mr McCully wants to be taken seriously as a Foreign Affairs spokesperson he will need to bring his Associate spokesperson into line. Mr Hayes's ignorant and insulting comments are no basis to build relations in our Pacific neighbourhood. These relationships are too important for flippant ill-conceived comments from political novices who should know better," concluded Mr Peters.


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