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No Place For Party Politics On Lamb


16 June 1999


"There is no place for the Labour Party's petty politics over the threat of trade restrictions against the New Zealand lamb industry," said Trade Minister Lockwood Smith today.

"Today's statement from Labour's Leader Helen Clark and her agriculture spokesman Jim Sutton reflects poor judgement at this crucial time for New Zealand farmers," Dr Smith said.

"The Labour Party's approach to the threat of trade restrictions has had nothing to do with helping farmers, and everything to do with taking cheap political potshots from the side-lines.

"In February 1999, Mr Sutton demonstrated his ignorance by suggesting that the International Trade Commission (ITC) had recommended trade restrictions as a result of the Prime Minister's visit to Washington to discuss trade with President Clinton.

"Last week Helen Clark wondered out loud if the Prime Minister would "go the extra mile" and call President Clinton on behalf of New Zealand farmers, when the call had already been made.

"Today's statement from Ms Clark and Mr Sutton demonstrates the Labour Party's ongoing ignorance of international trade negotiations and its commitment to petty politics.

"The Government's campaign to fight the trade restrictions has been comprehensive, and has included close co-ordination of a broad range of individuals and farming industry organisations within New Zealand. The campaign here has been emulated in Australia, with a similar commitment across a broad range of interests.

"In criticising this Government's efforts on lamb, Ms Clark also criticises the determined efforts of Meat New Zealand, Federated Farmers, and the hundreds of farmers that have articulated their views on this issue, all at their own expense. If this is Ms Clark's intention, then she should come right out and say this.

"Ms Clark would also do well to remember that it has been admitted in the US that efforts to fight trade restrictions by New Zealand and Australia has been one of the most effective campaigns it has ever encountered.

"Hopefully, Ms Clark is able to grasp this reality, show a bit of back-bone and resist the temptation to take further pot-shots for political ends, particularly when there is so much at stake for New Zealand farmers," Dr Smith concluded.


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