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Clark’s defence of Kordia fanciful

Murray McCully MP
National Party Foreign Affairs Spokesman

4 February 2008

Clark’s defence of Kordia fanciful

Helen Clark’s claim that Kordia’s cellphone tower work for the repressive Government of Myanmar (Burma) somehow contributes to democracy in that country is fanciful, says National’s Foreign Affairs spokesman, Murray McCully.

“Helen Clark and Trevor Mallard are just seeking to excuse the fact that a taxpayer-owned company is doing work for one of the most brutal, repressive regimes in the world. All of the evidence that New Zealanders have seen on their television screens shows that the Burmese Government is not interested in democracy.

“Likewise, Labour is just making excuses when it seeks to explain away the contract with Myanmar Post by pointing out it’s for only $80,000.

“It’s the principle that’s at issue here.

“The Labour Government has still not reconciled its hysterical behaviour over the Air New Zealand charter carrying Australian troops to Kuwait, and its approach to sanctions against Fiji, with the fact that one of its own companies is doing work with an agency of the Burmese Government.

“In the Air New Zealand case, the airline conducted appropriate checks with Foreign Affairs and then followed the official advice that they could proceed with the contract. But it still earned the wrath of Helen Clark and her Ministers.

“In the case of the Kordia contract, no advice was sought from Foreign Affairs so no clearance was given, and the Government says that’s just fine.

“Air New Zealand is an independent, stand-alone company listed on the Stock Exchange. Kordia is a 100% government-owned Crown company.

“Yet Air New Zealand was lambasted for allegedly acting counter to Government policy, despite being told by the most senior officials that they were not, and despite having a mandate to act independently.

“And now Kordia is being told it doesn’t even need to ask about Government policy – let alone follow it – despite being a 100% government-owned company.

“In relation to Fiji, the Government has put in place sanctions that have stopped scouts and soccer players from entering New Zealand.

“But in relation to Burma, Helen Clark and Trevor Mallard now say it’s alright for New Zealand government companies to do business with state agencies of one of the most brutal and repressive regimes in the world – without even bothering to tell the responsible Ministers.

“New Zealanders expect their Government to show fairness and consistency in conducting foreign policy. Neither fairness nor consistency is being shown here.”

ENDS

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