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APEC exposes lack of National leadership

Jim Anderton MP Sun Sep 12 1999

Jim Anderton
MPThis morning's speech by US President Bill Clinton has exposed the Prime Minister's absence of leadership on the East Timor issue, Alliance leader Jim Anderton says.

'New Zealand's term in the chair has been a massive lost opportunity.

'Mr Clinton has been far more direct and convincing in setting out the bottom line for Indonesia over the East Timor crisis. He has made it clear that economic and financial aid for Indonesia is on the line and laid down the necessity for multi-national intervention. Above all Mr Clinton refused to accept the line repeatedly parroted by the New Zealand government that the Indonesian military has 'lost control' of its military. He placed responsibility squarely where it lies.

'Now it is clear however that the Indonesian military has aided and abetted militia violence in East Timor, in violation of the commitment of its leaders to the international community. This has allowed the militias to murder innocent people, to send thousands fleeing for their lives, to attack the United Nations compound,' Mr Clinton told an international business leaders meeting in Auckland, adding that the United States is 'carefully reviewing all our own economic and commercial programmes' in Indonesia.

Jim Anderton says that in contrast to Mr Clinton's stance, the New Zealand government has been weak and conspicuously failed to display leadership on the East Timor issue.

'We have seen little more than a string of excuses for failing to move. We were slow to cut military ties and there has been silence from New Zealand on the issue of the international community's financial aid to Indonesia.

'From the pulpit of the chair of APEC our government could have displayed significant moral leadership in a responsible way, just as Mr Clinton has done this morning.

'Instead of making a material improvement to the lives of people in the APEC region it seems that Mrs Shipley's chairing of APEC will result in nothing more than a communiqué setting out a few bland pronouncements about the value of free markets,' Jim Anderton said.

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