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New Zealand must not sit on the sidelines while Australia and other countries move to protect vital shipping lanes in the Middle East, National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee says.

“Australia has today done the right thing by committing a ship, a surveillance aircraft and defence personnel to a multilateral effort to keep the Strait of Hormuz between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman open and safe for ships to pass through.

“Embarrassingly the Defence Minister Ron Mark, has responded by saying he can’t send a ship or a plane because these assets are out of action or overburdened.

“This is simply not good enough.

“New Zealand’s Defence Force can offer its partners a range of skills and assets in a multilateral effort such as this.

“Just as oil and other goods destined for Australia moves through the Strait of Hormuz, so too does oil and goods destined for New Zealand.

“Australia has correctly identified this situation as a risk to its economy.

“It is a risk to New Zealand’s economy too.

“New Zealand has a proud history of operating in the Middle East to keep the peace.

“In particular we recently played a significant role on the sea and in the air as part of the blockade of Isil’s trade of illicit goods to fund terror.

“The clock is ticking on New Zealand’s response to this very serious threat to our economic wellbeing.

“The Minister and his part-time Government need to do better.”

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