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Peters regrets NZ Herald plumbing new depths

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs

21 March 2006
Media Release

Peters regrets New Zealand Herald plumbing new depths

Foreign Minister Winston Peters has described an editorial carried yesterday in the New Zealand Herald as "petty, woefully misinformed, and factually incorrect".

"Although consistent with previous snarky commentary carried in this formerly serious newspaper, this latest outpouring really does plumb new depths. Clearly, someone at the Herald has got their knickers permanently in a twist, to the extent they are unable to recognise clear evidence that New Zealand's Foreign Minister is getting on successfully with defending and advancing New Zealand's interests overseas".

"No-one can seriously suggest that Prime Minister Clark is now more heavily involved in the foreign affairs part of her wider responsibilities than was the case before the new government was formed. The Herald highlights the involvement of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Trade in responding to the cartoons controversy at the beginning of last month. In what way was this unusual, given the domestic media and societal relations, and foreign trade dimensions of the issue? Obviously, the Herald's editorial writer hadn't checked the paper's 6 February edition, in which my comments were carried, or consulted the paper's political editor, who should have been aware (given that she was there) that I was making an official visit to Fiji in the week the issue came to a head".

"Somehow the Herald finds it surprising that my address to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs did not announce a radical departure from the foreign policy priorities of the Labour-led government. One must wonder why the Herald continues to ignore the repeated explanations that as Foreign Minister I represent the foreign policy of the government. The New Zealand public understand this. My colleagues from other countries understand it. It is about time the Herald grew up and stopped parading its discontent over my appointment."

"Then the Herald trots out yet again the falsehood that in the NZIIA speech I 'chided' the United States, while it makes patronising references to relations with Pacific island countries, and our very substantial ODA engagement in the Pacific, as not meriting Ministerial-level attention. This is frankly incredible."

"The importance of what New Zealand is doing in the Pacific is seemingly lost on the New Zealand Herald. It certainly isn’t lost on US Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill, who called on me in Wellington this week. Talking to the media (including your political editor) after our meeting, Chris Hill expressed US gratitude for New Zealand's contributions in the Pacific, and agreed with my point that this should be a building block for a closer relationship between New Zealand and the US."

"Indeed the National party's foreign affairs spokesperson Murray McCully's grasp of the importance of what we are trying to achieve in the Pacific is reflected in his following my path through the Pacific with his leader in tow. It seems the importance of the Pacific in our foreign policy has dawned on everybody but the New Zealand Herald."

"In trying to denigrate my role as Minister of Racing, the Herald has failed to grasp the degree of jubilation from the racing industry at recent announcements. In future the Herald might enquire of the racing industry as to what value the industry places on my holding this particular ministerial warrant."

"There is one fundamental difference between those who write editorials and Ministers who respond. Editorial writers hide behind a surreptitious cloak of anonymity. Ministers have to use their own names. This anonymity allows editorial writers to indulge in flights of fancy far removed from reality. Ministers have no such luxury."

“So who was the twit behind this editorial anyway? Have the courage to front up”.


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