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McCully: Wake-up call in IWC vote

Hon Murray McCully

National Party Foreign Affairs Spokesman National Party Conservation Spokesman 20 June 2006

McCully: Wake-up call in IWC vote

The National Party has called for changes to New Zealand's aid strategy in the Pacific, and to New Zealand's representation at the International Whaling Commission, in the wake of yesterday's win by Japan at the IWC.

The defection of key Pacific States in yesterday's vote at the International Whaling Commission is the result of "a half-hearted, insufficiently focused New Zealand strategy in the Pacific," according to National Party Foreign Affairs and Conservation spokesman Murray McCully.

Mr McCully has accused Prime Minister Helen Clark of being "naïve" in refusing to link New Zealand aid to the conduct of Pacific nations in the IWC, and questioned whether it was time to replace Conservation Minister Chris Carter "with a Minister who is interested in counting heads rather than sunbathing," to represent New Zealand at the IWC.

"In spite of the so-called special relationship New Zealand enjoys with the Pacific states, Japan has marched in and bought the votes of nations like Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Solomons from under our noses.

"The fact that Japan received the votes of some nations that Chris Carter thought were committed to the anti-whaling cause raises serious questions about his competence as our lead negotiator. The fact that the Clark Government has actually created special Pacific Access Quotas giving Tuvalu and Kiribati citizens privileged treatment for immigration into New Zealand makes the defection of those two states doubly annoying.

"NZ Aid will spend over $369 million of taxpayers' money this year across 100 countries. That is far too wide and thin to spread our aid budget, as the Government's recent review of NZ Aid confirms. Official figures claim that approximately one third of that sum is spent in the Pacific. It is time that we seriously re-focused the bulk of our efforts into our own region.

"The quid pro quo for New Zealand financial and other support is a higher standard of governance. Otherwise, New Zealand aid money will be wasted. The naked purchasing of IWC votes is incompatible with the standards we are entitled to expect from those nations.

"Yesterday's IWC vote is a wake-up call for New Zealand," says McCully.

ENDS

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