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Don Brash Writes - 15 September 2006

Don Brash Writes
No. 89 - 15 September 2006

Recent events

I want to thank my colleagues and the many other New Zealanders who have communicated their support to my family and me in recent days. I am pleased to be back at work and resuming my official duties.

Subject as always to the support of my colleagues, I remain committed to providing leadership for the National Party and am pleased to say that my family supports me in this decision.

As Leader, I am focused on the issues which are important to New Zealanders.

Visit to Samoa

Last week I had a wonderful visit to Samoa. I was very generously hosted by the Samoan Government and in particular the Prime Minister, Hon Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.
This was my first visit to Samoa. The purpose of the visit was to continue familiarising myself with the issues facing the Pacific, and it followed my visit earlier this year to the Cook Islands.

I was interested to visit the National University of Samoa, which offers programmes developed and supported by NZAid. I also met the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Misa Telefoni, the Minister of Finance, Hon Niko Lee-Hang, and Governor of the Central Bank of Samoa, Leasi P. Tommy Scanlan.

I had the honour of watching the Fautasi (Long Boat) race, part of the Teuila Festival, from the water. I also visited Samoa's largest employer, the Yazaki electrical factory. The factory produces the wiring harnesses for Toyota, Mitsubishi and Holden in Australia.

I was struck during these meetings by how important the educational opportunities in New Zealand have been in cementing the relationship between the two countries. This has been of great benefit to both Samoa and New Zealand.

National believes New Zealand needs to focus more on the Pacific, and this visit was an important part of learning more about the region and developing relationships that will ensure we are successful in helping the region to develop to its fullest potential.

Labour's pledge card

We will continue to maintain the pressure on Labour regarding their illegal election pledge card spending. It is the right thing to do. National strongly believes that Helen Clark misappropriated parliamentary funds, and therefore taxpayers' money.

Four independent government agencies unanimously agree this spending breached the rules - the Auditor-General, the Solicitor-General, the Electoral Commission and the Chief Electoral Officer.

We must now wait for the Auditor-General's final report, which should be released by the end of the year. While we expect it to draw the same conclusions as his draft report, Labour maintains its refusal to pay the money back.

To add insult to injury, the Government is now looking at retrospective legislation to make the spending legal. It will continue to engage in this series of distractions, diversions and threats in a cynical attempt at self-preservation. What we want, and what the public deserves, is for Helen Clark to come clean and pay the money back.

Don Brash


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