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Taxpayer-funded APEC media junket tour slammed

A recent week-long visit to New Zealand involving 23 overseas journalists is being held up as yet another desperate misuse of public money in selling APEC 99 and the failed New Zealand reforms to the world in preparation for next month’s APEC Leaders Summit

“Five government agencies had budgeted $65, 000 for this propaganda tour to showcase APEC, the America’s Cup, and the Millennium,” said Aziz Choudry of the APEC Monitoring Group which has mounted a year-long campaign to oppose and expose APEC.

In answer to a written question posed by Rod Donald, Foreign Affairs Minister Don McKinnon has revealed that the APEC Task Force, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Commerce, New Zealand Tourism Board, Trade New Zealand and APEC New Zealand 99 sponsor Air New Zealand hosted the late July visit. Journalists from 19 APEC countries and the British Guardian Weekly took part in the tour.

“Having failed to sell the New Zealand reforms and its international free trade commitments which have put this country at the extreme end of the trade and investment liberalisation spectrum as successfully as they would have liked, the government has used public money to buy favourable publicity for it from international media,” he said.

“At home and internationally, more and more people are questioning the claims made about the free market. This tour was yet another attempt to disguise the reality of the human havoc caused by the kinds of economic reforms which APEC promotes, and which many New Zealanders are already grimly familiar with. It was clearly set up so that the visitors would see a very sanitised picture of society.”

“And with APEC increasingly looking like an extravagant gabfest going nowhere fast, the government’s spin doctors are clearly pulling out all the stops to massage the forum’s flagging image for international and domestic consumption.”

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