Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Newman: Bali Tragedy Prompts Questions At Home

Bali Tragedy Prompts Questions At Home

Weekly Column by Dr Muriel Newman MP

When Helen Clark scrapped the air strike wing of the Royal New Zealand Airforce, she said, "Look at our strategic circumstances. Who could be in a more benign environment than in New Zealand?"

That's a question that Ms Clark should re-examine. Her first real opportunity to do so came on September 11, 2001. That date marked the first major strike on civilians in an international terrorist campaign against the western ideals of free trade, capitalism, freedom and democracy.

According to some who share the worldview to which our Prime Minister subscribes, the United States 'deserved' the terror attack because of its behaviour in other places in the world.

One year, one month and one day later, our own "benign environment" was struck. The bomb blast in the tropical holiday paradise of Bali shattered the Clark-inspired myth that New Zealand should adopt an isolationist stance, turning our backs on our traditional allies Australia and the United States. These events have served to remind us of the need to re-examine our international relationships in a straightforward and honest manner, recognising our nation's dependence upon reliable friends for intelligence information and protection.

We must also be frank about the environment in which we live. North of New Zealand is a vast spread of micro-island states, each on its own difficult path. Right above Australia, volatile Indonesia and Papua New Guinea spread their shadows. And beyond that, South East Asia simmers.

Before Bali, it was most convenient for our nation's leaders to close their eyes to the threat of outside interference in these nations. We can no longer do so. The threat posed by Islamic fundamentalism has been graphically evident for over a decade. We can not take the 'bludger's option' and rely on our neighbour Australia without offering anything in return. And with no air combat force, and run-down military equipment, what can we offer any ally?

As well as foreign affairs policies, I believe the response to Bali exposed differences between Australia Prime Minister John Howard and our own Helen Clark, of a far more personal nature.

In spite of the original estimates that as many as 300 New Zealanders were unaccounted for with some having lost their lives, neither the Prime Minister nor her Ministers here visited Bali to show their respect. In a move that smacks of her reaction to the September 11th tragedy where she carried on with a junket around Europe, Helen Clark has not followed the lead of the Australian Prime Minister and gone to the scene of the tragedy, but carried on with her present junket to Cairo.

While our thoughts are with those families who have been caught up in the tragic events in Bali - and now those in the Philippines - we need to turn our minds to the matter of internal security.

Following September 11 the Waikato Times reported that the FBI and the SIS were investigating the actions of some immigrants suspected of being involved in terrorism. While we don't know the outcome, the case brings to mind questions over how robust the scrutiny of new immigrants from the Middle East really is.

Of particular concern is this government's enthusiasm for accepting refugees from the Tampa. These were people who by-passed the normal immigration process - queue jumpers in fact - that Australia would not accept and who should have been sent back to Afghanistan. Instead, Helen Clark welcomed them with open arms. The Government tries to claim that proper security checks were carried out but, as is widely known, there are many countries where so-called security clearances can be readily bought and are not worth the paper they are written on.

In spite of Labour's isolationist ideology, as a Government the party is charged with the responsibility to protect our nation. I believe this means they must take a cautious approach to immigration and re-visit their decision to downgrade the Airforce.

Now, more than ever, New Zealand needs an air-strike capability to protect our country, and a commitment to pull our weight in regional defence activities.

You can view the archive of Columns at the ACT website

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Why New Zealand Needs To Change Its Defence Habits

In a flashback to the military displays of days gone by, one of our frigates recently joined a Carrier Strike show of force in the South China Sea, en route to a joint military exercise in Singapore with our traditional allies, called BersamaGold21. Reportedly, Anna Powles, from the Centre of Defence and Security Studies at Massey University felt this to be a case of us doing our bit to uphold international law, and the right of free transit through the region in question... More>>

Government: New COVID-19 Protection Framework Delivers Greater Freedoms For Vaccinated New Zealanders

Vaccinated New Zealanders will regain everyday freedoms when the country moves to a new simplified COVID-19 Protection Framework that doesn’t rely on nationwide lockdowns as the main measure to stop the virus spreading. In a suite of announcements that establish a pathway out of restrictions the Government is also providing up to $940 million per fortnight to support businesses through the challenging period... More>>



Government: Responds To Independent Review Into WorkSafe

The Government has clear expectations that WorkSafe must action the recommendations of the independent review into the regulator to improve its management of adventure activities following the tragedy at Whakaari White Island, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood says... More>>

Government: New Zealand Secures Historic Free Trade Deal With The United Kingdom
New Zealand and the United Kingdom have agreed in principle the details of a historic Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which will further accelerate our COVID-19 economic recovery say Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor... More>>


Ombudsman: Launches Investigation Into MIQ Booking System
The Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier is launching a broad investigation into the Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) booking system after receiving hundreds of complaints... More>>


Pay Cheque To Pay Cheque: Half A Million New Zealanders Have No Savings
New findings from the Consumer NZ sentiment tracker found that 15% of New Zealanders had no savings, and a further 27% were anxious about their level of savings and would like to have more tucked away... More>>

Government: Mandatory Vaccination For Two Workforces

Large parts of two workforces critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19 will be required to be vaccinated, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Our education and health and disability workforces have done an incredible job throughout this pandemic to keep themselves and people safe,” Chris Hipkins said.... More>>

Green Party: Deeply Concerned Space Launches May Be Breaching Nuclear-free Laws

The Green Party is deeply concerned that space launches by Rocket Lab may be breaching nuclear-free laws, given our long-standing position as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty... More>>




InfoPages News Channels