National Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee says reports that an Iranian diplomat delivered what was effectively a hate speech at an Auckland mosque in June raises questions as to why Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters hasn’t already required the withdrawal of the diplomat’s credentials and his removal from the country.
“Diplomats have a privileged position in most societies, allowing them to best represent the relationship between the country they’re from and the country they’re posted to,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Inciting racial tension by making anti-Semitic statements is the antithesis of that important role, regardless of the context or setting in which the comments were made.
“Racial Disharmony offences under the Human Rights Act are quite clear, and a complaint has already been made to the Human Rights Commission over these offensive comments.
“As Foreign Minister Mr Peters should act without hesitation by requiring the offending diplomat to leave the country.”
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has today announced a further $700,000 of support to Vanuatu for communities impacted by the evacuation from Ambae.
“More than 10,000 people are in temporary accommodation following a precautionary evacuation from Ambae Island due to the volcanic activity,” Mr Brownlee says.
“We are continuing to work with the Government of Vanuatu and other partners to support the response.
“New Zealand will provide up to $600,000 for New Zealand non-government organisations to work with partners in Vanuatu to provide on-the-ground assistance for communities impacted by the evacuation of Ambae Island.
“We will also make an additional $100,000 available to support the Government of Vanuatu’s response effort.
“This will bring our total contribution to $1,370,000 and builds on the technical assistance and supplies we have already provided,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee today announced a further New Zealand Defence Force C-130 flight to Vanuatu to deliver relief supplies for communities evacuated from Ambae.
“The Vanuatu Government has completed the precautionary evacuation of Ambae and more than 10,000 people are now in temporary accommodation on other islands,” Mr Brownlee says.
“New Zealand is committed to helping the Government of Vanuatu meet the needs of those who have been evacuated and we are working closely with the local authorities and international partners to coordinate our response.
“A second C-130 flight will depart for Vanuatu today carrying $100,000 of relief supplies, such as mother-and-infant kits, hygiene kits, and chemical toilets.
“This will bring our total contribution to $670,000 and builds on the technical assistance and supplies we have already provided.
“We will continue to work with the Government of Vanuatu over the coming days to determine how we can assist further,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee is encouraging all New Zealanders in, and travelling to Bali to register with Safe Travel.
“Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Authority has raised the volcanic alert level for Mount Agung to level four, the highest level on their scale,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Bali is a popular holiday destination for New Zealanders, and I encourage Kiwis living or travelling to Bali to register with SafeTravel.
“Registered New Zealanders will receive updated advice and information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the event the situation deteriorates.
“Residents and tourists have been warned to stay at least 12 kilometres from the volcano’s crater.
“There are evacuation orders in place for those within that area due to the potential for an eruption.
“In the event of volcanic ash clouds, New Zealanders travelling to or from Bali are advised to confirm their travel arrangements with their airline or travel agent directly, prior to travelling to the airport,” Mr Brownlee says.
SafeTravel launched in 2006 and is the official source of advice for New Zealanders living or travelling overseas.
There are currently 386 New Zealanders registered as being in Bali.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has today expressed condolences to the families of those who have lost lives in the devastating earthquake in Mexico, or are still waiting for news about their loved ones.
Latest reports are suggesting at least 140 people have lost their lives in today’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake.
“This is the deadliest earthquake since the one which hit Mexico City exactly 32 years ago today, in 1985, which resulted in thousands of deaths,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Tragically it comes only two weeks after an 8.1 magnitude quake off the Mexico coast which killed at least 90 people.
“On behalf of the New Zealand Government and the people of New Zealand, I would like to send a message of sympathy and support to President Peña Nieto and to the people of Mexico.
“New Zealand understands only too well the devastation that is caused by earthquakes.
“Our thoughts are with the injured, the loved ones of those affected, and the emergency services staff at the forefront of the response.
“While Mexican authorities have not requested international assistance, New Zealand stands ready to support any international effort if required.
“At this stage, there are no reports of any New Zealand citizens being injured in the earthquake, however the New Zealand Embassy in Mexico City will continue to monitor the situation closely,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee announced today New Zealand will sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at a ceremony during the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week.
New Zealand will sign the Treaty on the first day it is open for signature, September 20.
“Our signing at this first opportunity is consistent with New Zealand’s long-standing commitment to international nuclear disarmament efforts”, Mr Brownlee says.
“While no state currently in possession of nuclear weapons will be signing along with us, this Treaty nevertheless represents an important step towards a nuclear-free world.
“It establishes the first global prohibition on nuclear weapons and provides the international legal framework for a world without these weapons,” Mr Brownlee says.
New Zealand joined over 120 other states in supporting the adoption of the treaty at a United Nations conference in July this year.
The Treaty will enter into force once 50 states have ratified it.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee is concerned by this morning’s launch of a ballistic missile by North Korea tracking over Japan – coming hot on the heels of threatening North Korean rhetoric directed to both Japan and the United States.
“Today’s provocative launch deliberately raises tensions,” Mr Brownlee says.
“New Zealand joins the international community in once again condemning this inexplicable course of action.
“We stand in solidarity with the people of Japan in the face of this provocation.
“Now is a time for cool heads. Responses to North Korea’s actions must be very carefully considered.
“We continue to have dialogue with partner countries and will continue to support diplomatic efforts to bring about a resolution,” Mr Brownlee says.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Gerry Brownlee and Minister of Science and Innovation Paul Goldsmith have today announced that Antarctica New Zealand, in partnership with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, will jointly develop a new Antarctic Science Platform.
“With a mandate to carry out New Zealand’s activities in Antarctica, alongside their existing logistics and infrastructure, Antarctica New Zealand is well positioned to support the delivery of a strategic and collaborative approach to New Zealand’s Antarctic science,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Following consultation with a wide range of sector stakeholders, Antarctica New Zealand has been invited to work with the Ministry to establish the new Platform.”
The Platform will bring together New Zealand’s top experts, facilities, information and knowledge for underpinning, longer-term Antarctic science critical to maximising scientific and strategic benefits for New Zealand.
“An independent governance group will be established to make funding decisions, based on advice and recommendations from the Platform host,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“This governance model will result in most research programmes and projects being developed collaboratively with input from relevant science providers and government agencies.”
$21 million over three years for the Antarctic Science Platform was announced as part of Budget 2017 through the Ministry’s Strategic Science Investment Fund.
This funding is additional to a number of existing sources of support for Antarctic research and will allow strategically aligned research that addresses key priorities for New Zealand.
The priority research areas will include understanding the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, change in the Antarctic atmosphere and Southern Ocean, threats to ecosystem dynamics in the Ross Sea, and connections between terrestrial and near shore Antarctic environments, including sea ice.
“The Platform science priorities will be supported by three cross-cutting themes of building innovation and interdisciplinary capability, developing long-term data sets, and developing technology,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“Antarctic science is hugely important to New Zealand,” Mr Brownlee says.
“These priorities have a high strategic and scientific value and will ensure we build a strong, internationally connected, and respected Antarctic science programme,” Mr Brownlee says.
MBIE will now work closely with Antarctica New Zealand to develop a Platform Plan. A governance group is expected to be established early next year with the Platform becoming operational from July 2018.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has welcomed the prompt and unanimous United Nations Security Council Resolution imposing additional sanctions on North Korea.
Resolution 2375 was adopted by the Security Council earlier today, following North Korea’s sixth nuclear test on 3 September.
It is the ninth Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on North Korea, whose nuclear and ballistic missile tests violate previous Security Council directives. It follows Resolution 2371, which was agreed in early August.
“North Korea has shown, time and again, that it poses a real and immediate threat to both regional and international security,” Mr Brownlee says.
New Zealand continues to condemn its provocative actions in the strongest possible terms.”
The resolution adopted today will significantly reduce North Korea’s oil imports, bans North Korea from importing natural gas and exporting textiles, and restricts the number of labourers from North Korea that will be able to work overseas and generate income for the regime. It also allows states to inspect vessels on the high seas suspected of carrying items prohibited by the sanctions regime.
The measures contained in the resolution are estimated to diminish North Korea’s export earnings by as much as USD $1.3 billion.
“This is money that North Korea will not be able to put towards its illegal nuclear and missile programmes,” Mr Brownlee says.
“These new sanctions send a loud and clear message to North Korea that its behaviour will not be tolerated by the international community and will be met with significant consequences.”
“New Zealand has identified the support that we can provide on sanctions implementation in the Pacific. We will also be undertaking prompt steps to implement the new resolution and the measures it contains.”
“New Zealand, once again, joins the international community in calling on North Korea to abide by its international obligations and turn away from its current course,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has returned to New Zealand after attending the 48th annual Pacific Islands Forum in Samoa, on behalf of Prime Minister Bill English.
“During the Forum, Pacific Leaders discussed and made decisions on a number of important regional issues," Mr Brownlee says.
“New Zealand’s proposition, with Australia’s support, to commit to deregistering any North Korean trading and fishing vessels currently flagged on Pacific states’ shipping registers was unanimously agreed to by Pacific Leaders.
"New Zealand looks forward to working with Pacific countries to identify and de-register illegally flagged North Korean vessels.
“Options for New Zealand support, working alongside Australia, include the sharing of intelligence and also providing maritime and legal expertise on the operation of shipping registries.
"By working together, the Pacific region can do its bit to help ensure that United Nations Security Council sanctions on North Korea are fully and effectively enforced.
"Pacific Leaders also held discussions on a range of important regional issues, including fisheries, climate change, security and trade.
"Leaders initiated discussions on a new comprehensive, regional security declaration and welcomed the signing by 11 Forum Members of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations.
"I would like to thank Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa for chairing an effective and well run Forum," Mr Brownlee says.