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Shipley blunders in Australia

27 September 2000 Media Statement

Shipley blunders in Australia


Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that Mrs Shipley's statements about her meeting with the Australian Prime Minister were the "inept blundering of someone unfit to ever be Prime Minister again".

Helen Clark said Mrs Shipley knew nothing about foreign policy before becoming Prime Minister, and had learnt nothing during her short tenure in the position.

"It is recklessly irresponsible for Mrs Shipley to attempt to compromise a meeting between the Australian and New Zealand Prime Ministers. Mrs Shipley's statement will cause considerable embarrassment to the Australian government. The last thing Mr Howard would have expected would be to have Mrs Shipley blurt her version of a private meeting to the news media.

"This is the second time that National in opposition has sought to undermine a meeting between Mr Howard and me. Immediately prior to my first meeting with Mr Howard in March this year, National's foreign affairs and defence spokespersons, Mr Upton and Mr Mapp, came to Australia on precisely the same mission. Now Mrs Shipley has followed suit.

"It is unheard of for a leader of the opposition to act in this way.

"Mrs Shipley does not appear to understand that New Zealand determines its own policies on immigration and defence. The present government works closely with Australia. Where there are differences in approach, they are honestly and frankly discussed."

Helen Clark said she had built a good, professional working relationship with Mr Howard.

"I am looking forward to a good meeting with Mr Howard tomorrow, despite Mrs Shipley's attempts to undermine it and the Australia-New Zealand relationship. It is Mrs Shipley's attempts to put petty political point-scoring ahead of New Zealand's interests that make her unfit to hold high public office," Helen Clark said.


ENDS

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