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Hayes needs to apologise

23 October 2009 Media Statement
Hayes needs to apologise

The attack on the Governments of three Pacific territories associated with New Zealand by a senior National MP is unprecedented and must be condemned by John Key, Labour’s Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Chris Carter said today.

“New Zealand has enjoyed a warm and constructive relationship with the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau,” Chris Cater said.

“To have Government MP John Hayes, Chair of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee, with responsibilities for new foreign relations issues, essentially condemning the political leadership and democracy of the Cooks, Tokelau and Niue, sends a very bad message to Pacific communities both in New Zealand in the home islands.

“John Key and Foreign Minister Murray McCully need to rein John Hayes in and make clear to Prime Minister Hon Jim Marurai of the Cook Islands, Premier Toke Tufukia Talagi of Niue, and Ulu Alaki Faipule Foua Toloa, that Hayes is not talking on behalf of the National-led Government.

“John Hayes’ attempt to compare costs between his Wairarapa electorate and the challenges faced by small communities in the Pacific is unrealistic and misleading.

“Such a simplistic approach is astonishing coming from a man who has served as a senior diplomat in the Pacific. Mr Hayes, who has served as New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea should have a better understanding of the challenges facing these remote islands.

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“It is not in New Zealand’s interests to insult the people and the Governments of Niue, the Cooks and Tokelau. His remarks on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report could have done New Zealand considerable diplomatic harm.

“Mr Hayes needs to remember that other countries are seeking to expand their influence in the Pacific and many of these countries have deep pockets. Remarks like his could sour longstanding friendships between New Zealand and island communities like the Cooks, Tokelau and Niue and open opportunities for others with potential consequences for New Zealand.”

ENDS

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