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Ministerial Statement: Terrorist Attacks In US

Hon Jim Anderton Speech Notes

Mr Speaker,

This is a grim day.

Terrorists have carried out devastating attacks in Washington and New York.

In New York two aircraft crashed into the World Trade Centre causing both of its 110-storey high towers to collapse.

In Washington an aircraft crashed into the Pentagon causing significant damage.

A fourth aircraft crashed in Pennsylvania.

No accurate figures concerning deaths and injuries are available but there will have been a very heavy loss of life.

Responsibility for these attacks has not yet been determined.

The attacks were carried out using hijacked US commercial airliners operated by United Airlines and American Airlines.

One of the aircraft that crashed into the World Trade Centre was a United Airlines flight between Boston and Los Angeles.

This was a code-shared flight with Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand say that there were no Air New Zealand ticketed passengers on board.

All relevant government agencies have been monitoring the situation and assessing its implications for New Zealand.

This process started just before 2 o'clock this morning.

Advice was provided to me as Acting Prime Minister and to Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Officials met at 5.45am this morning to review all the information that had come to hand and to ensure that agencies were responding in a co-ordinated way.

There is no indication of any increased security threat within New Zealand.

But no country can be complacent.

A number of prudent measures have been instituted because of the uncertainty arising from these tragic events in the United States.

Several steps have been taken to deal with the immediate concerns of New Zealanders.

New Zealand Government offices in Washington and New York are making every effort in their dealings with United States authorities to get the earliest possible definitive advice about New Zealanders who may have been caught up in this tragedy.

In New Zealand, our Foreign Affairs Ministry has established a consular number: 0800 872 111.

Updated information will also be posted on the Foreign Affairs website throughout the day.

Understandably, at this point not a lot of information is available from the United States.

All airline services to and within the United States have been cancelled.

All Air New Zealand flights affected are safely on the ground.

Regional international services such as to Australia and East Asia are operating as usual.

NZ Aviation Security Services, Civil Aviation and the Police have increased security at airports.

CAA has issued an alert to all domestic and international airline operators to heighten security awareness.

In addition, as a temporary measure, security screening will be in place for domestic passengers at major airports.

The New Zealand Police have reviewed security arrangements for diplomatic missions in New Zealand and instituted additional measures where considered prudent.

As Acting Prime Minister, I sent a message to President Bush at 4 o'clock this morning.

It expressed New Zealand’s shock at the breaking news and New Zealand support for the American people at this time.

The Government is shocked and outraged at the callous killing of innocent civilians.

New Zealanders share the despair and terrible loss that the whole of the civilised world feels at the loss of thousands of lives.

Our grief and our horror has been expressed in many ways:

In the flowers sent spontaneously to the US Embassy in Wellington this morning.

In the shocked conversations as New Zealanders woke up to the terrible news.

And as the nation gathered around radios and televisions and tried to make sense of this, a shared determination grew.

A determination felt by all decent people that the perpetrators of this violence must be brought swiftly to justice.

That the international community must work together to find everyone who has made this happen, and to punish them.

New Zealand will stand with all other democratic countries to do whatever is necessary to prevent and remove threats to peace and the devastating scourge of terrorism.

As we look ahead, the Government will continue to stay abreast of developments.

We know there will be an enormous impact on lives of many thousands of people.

The shockwaves are rippling around the globe.

This has been an evil act.

Evil people have conspired together to commit a cold and vicious act against humanity.

There is no cause that can justify this.

The international community -- civilised societies everywhere -- must work together to foil the aims of those who have done this.

I am sure this House will wish to join together to express our grief and sympathy for those who have lost their family, their friends and their relatives.

After party leaders have had the opportunity to respond to this statement, I will seek leave to move a motion to express our shock and horror and our support for suppressing terrorism.

Ends

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