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Act Supports Recall Of Parliament For Timor Debate

Act Supports Recall Of Parliament For Peacekeeping Debate

ACT Leader Richard Prebble said the ACT Party supported Jenny Shipley's
initiative in recalling Parliament to debate the sending of peacekeepers to
East Timor.

"Sending New Zealand armed force personnel overseas on a task that may well
prove to be very risky is a matter for Parliament rather than the government.

"The ACT Party will be seeking clarification on the peacekeeping force. We
insist that it be under the UN. ACT believes that the US commitment to the
task force is crucial to its success. Frankly Australia does not have the
defence capabilities to maintain a substantial commitment.

"ACT also wants to know what other countries will participate.

"It appears to ACT that we also need to know what the exit strategy is. East
Timor is in a mess. Stopping the fighting is just the start of the task. Will
peacekeepers be expected to help install a new government? Are we going to be
arresting people for human rights violations? If so how will they be tried?
Will New Zealand be assisting the refugees to return? If so, how is this to be
achieved?

"I believe the Prime Minister is right to be drawing it to the country's
attention that this is a very big commitment. Traditionally these sorts of
commitments are very popular for 30 days until the true costs come home. We
should debate it before we send in troops rather than after.

"I was at the APEC dinner last night and ASEAN foreign ministers said to me
that they believed that Indonesia would agree to an international peacekeeping
force. They also said that they believed countries in SE Asia would
participate. I regard this as a very significant development. A peacekeeping
force made of just NZ and Australia troops is not as credible as a peacekeeping
force made up of nations in the region.

"I was an eyewitness to the quiet diplomacy that may result in an international
peacekeeping force. If it succeeds then Mrs Shipley's strategy at APEC has
been vindicated."


ENDS

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