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Stronger human rights advocacy, promotion of trade


New Zealand must stand up and be counted if it is to take its rightful place as a member of the international community, Labour MP Phil Goff said today in releasing Labour's Foreign Affairs Policy.

"Labour's policy promises an independent and principled approach to foreign affairs while acknowledging the realities and complexities of international relations.

"New Zealanders cannot regard with any pride this country's long silence on the abuse of human rights and denial of self-determination in East Timor.

"The East Timor situation has shown that advocacy for human rights cannot be done so quietly that it is not heard, or interpreted by offending countries as condoning their actions.

"While seeking co-operative international relations with countries from across the spectrum, New Zealand must be forthright and clear in its opposition to abuses of human rights wherever they are taking place.

"Jenny Shipley wanted to consign East Timor to the fringes at APEC until given some backbone by a decisive statement from President Clinton.

"New Zealand as a small nation relies on the rule of international law and should speak out on the rights of small nations to protection from their larger neighbours.

"The 1930s showed that appeasement is not in the best interests of countries seeking justice. Yet Jenny Shipley, rather than speaking out against human rights, has shown her willingness to adopt these tactics.

"It was shameful that the PM put pressure on police decision-making to suppress New Zealanders peacefully demonstrating about human rights abuses in Tibet during the visit of the Chinese President to Christchurch.

"Mrs Shipley's denial of involvement contradicts eye witness accounts and her honesty will be the subject of a select committee inquiry following the election of a Labour-led government.

"New Zealand also needs a new and vigorous approach in the promotion of its trade interests," Phil Goff said.

"Mrs Shipley may make up good news stories about imminent free trade agreements that never eventuate, but the realities of US lamb tariffs and artificial barriers to some exports to Australia demand determined action.

"Trade liberalisation cannot be a one-way street. Our trade policy focus must be securing market access for our exporters, not simply cheaper imports for our consumers.

"National's trade failure can be seen in the massive current account deficit, forecast by Treasury to reach $8.3 billion by next March. National has done nothing to replace the falling income from commodity exports. Real returns from wool exports have fallen 45 percent since 1990; meat returns are down by 15 percent and dairy by 16 percent.

"National's charade of an eleventh-hour conversion to supporting new knowledge-based industries is too little, too late. Their reduction of support in 1998 for marketing of international education services - an industry established by Labour in 1989 and now worth $500 million a year - shows their true colours.

"Labour will foster diversification of export industries with real support, and expand the role of Trade New Zealand to help get our goods into foreign markets. Export guarantees and export credits will also support promising fledgling industries," Mr Goff said.

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