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Double Standard In East Timor - Prebble

The government of New Zealand is again showing a double standard in the aid vote, says ACT Leader Richard Prebble.

"It is wrong in principle for the New Zealand government to have agreed to fly 16 East Timorese students at the taxpayers' expense not once but twice to Sydney this month so they can enrol and then vote," Mr Prebble said.

"The Indonesian government and the UN have both decided not to put a polling booth in New Zealand.

"If the students think their votes are so important then they should pay themselves. If they haven't got the money they should go and ask Phil Goff who's been campaigning for East Timor, to raise the money for them.

"The one organisation that should not pay as a matter of principle is the New Zealand government. The New Zealand government will not pay the travel expenses for any New Zealander no matter how poor they are or how far they are from the nearest polling booth. As a result, every election New Zealand votes are disallowed.

"Successive governments have refused to meet the travel costs of New Zealand voters. This election thousands of New Zealanders who live in remote parts of the world will be unable to cast a vote because special votes cant reach them and be returned before polling day. Every election hundreds of special votes are disallowed for this reason.

"I am writing to the government to see if by chance this is a change in policy and my constituents who found themselves in Rwanda or Venezuela or Afghanistan can have their New Zealand government fly them to the nearest New Zealand embassy and home again, and if not why not."

ENDS

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