Suggestions that the Prime Minister’s ill-advised interference in Australia’s handling of illegal asylum seekers has led to a spike in such activity is further proof she should take more care with her remarks, National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee says.
“The Prime Minister has repeatedly criticised the Australian Government for the way it handles people trying to reach Australia illegally, and advocated for those asylum seekers to be resettled in New Zealand.
“While this is a long-standing offer, the Prime Minister’s grandstanding not only affected our relationship with our closest ally, but has also reportedly led to more attempts by asylum seekers to reach Australia, and also to target New Zealand.
“This is a dangerous journey which has cost lives, and one the Australian Government, supported by New Zealand has worked hard to discourage – and been effective in doing.
“It is also a very difficult issue for Australia to manage, which is why the Australian Government has so clearly, and fairly, resented Ms Ardern’s comments.
“Her insistence that Australia allow New Zealand to handpick 150 asylum seekers who meet UN refugee status, while Australia handles the rest, on top of the message this sends to human traffickers and those desperate to attempt to reach Australia, shows a disregard to the complexity of the problem.
“New Zealand should be supporting efforts to help curb such dangerous attempts, not helping to promote them and the Prime Minister needs to be more aware of that.”
The Government’s foreign home buyer ‘ban’ is fast unravelling, with Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters confirming that Singaporeans may be exempted, along with Australians – begging the question which country is next?
“The Government has repeatedly claimed foreign buyers of New Zealand houses can be banned without breaching any of our international agreements. Then on Wednesday, following objections raised by the Singaporean Government, it admitted it would breach the NZ-Singapore Closer Economic Partnership.
“And yesterday Mr Peters confirmed the Government is in fact working on an exemption for Singapore.
“The question now has to be asked, which country will need to be exempt next? And if we refuse an exemption, what impact will that have on our important international relationships?
“For example, we are currently upgrading our FTA with China. Will our largest goods trading partner accept being told that our Government will treat Australians and Singaporeans differently in New Zealand than Chinese?
“This is a confused Government desperate to ram through desperate concessions agreed in its coalition talks. It continues to treat our international relationships with contempt. It needs to start thinking beyond tomorrow’s headlines before it does real damage.”
National Party Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Gerry Brownlee has urged the Prime Minister to concentrate on getting her own government in order, rather than continuing to interfere in the domestic politics of our neighbours.
“The Australian Government is again having to defend its approach to dealing with illegal asylum seekers after Jacinda Ardern used a meeting with the Australian Opposition Leader to force the issue back onto the Australian political agenda.
“New Zealand has a long-standing offer to take 150 refugees but it is up to the Australian Government to take that up. The Australian Government is aware the offer is there, and is clearly frustrated by Ms Ardern’s repeated attempts to embarrass it into accepting it.
“While we should always be able to speak frankly and raise concerns, Ms Ardern should be giving more consideration to the difficulty of dealing with issues like asylum seekers, and asking herself whether her approach is in the best interests of New Zealand and New Zealanders.
“What might further frustrate the Australian Government is being lectured to by a Prime Minister whose own Government continues to lurch from shambles to shambles.
“We are entering another week of Parliament with little of Labour’s own legislation up for debate and the Government preparing to rush through laws under Urgency to take away $1060 a year from someone on the average wage.
“The Government continues to break its promises and to find itself unable to explain to New Zealanders its policies and direction.
“With business and farmer confidence dropping significantly, the Prime Minister should focus more of her attention on getting her own Government’s affairs in order before telling other leaders how to run theirs.”
Recreational fishers will be relieved to hear that Stuart Nash appears to have completely rejected the recommendations of a report that would have brought onerous compliance costs on them, National’s Fisheries spokesperson Gerry Brownlee says.
The public policy think tank, the New Zealand Initiative, yesterday released the findings of a five year study into the state of New Zealand's recreational fishing sector.
Among its recommendations are imposing a licensing regime on recreational fishers, introducing a registration system for boats and requiring recreational catch reporting.
“The Minister has gone from a reserved positon on the report last night, to being unequivocal today and rejecting most of its recommendations.
“In answering my questions in the House today, the Minister provided welcome confirmation that recreational fishers will not be required to get a license to catch a fish in the marine environment, they will not have to register their boat, and will not have to report their catch.
“Now that he has clarified the long held positon (as outlined in the report) that recreational fishers “will have priority status where the abundance is insufficient to support both commercial and non-commercial fishing” the question arises; will he move to compensate commercial fishers for reduced total allowable take in over-fished areas? And, who will pay for the compensation now that he’s rejected all the recommended revenue streams recommended in the report?
“These questions will give the Coalition something to think about. As usual, there are a number of conflicting positions between the Greens, Labour and New Zealand First.
“For example, the Minister recently announced he would put a stop on the roll out of digital monitoring on commercial fishing vessels. He’s obviously under pressure from New Zealand First and their supporters yet one of the recommendations we see here in this report is to improve data collection on these fleets.
“Forgive the pun, but Stuart Nash is literally floundering. Just last night he had no answers for recreational fishers, now he’s got to find some for the commercial sector.”
After five years of work led by the previous National Government with the United States, the world’s largest Marine Protected Area in the Ross Sea region of the Antarctic has today come into force, National Party Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Gerry Brownlee says.
“The Ross Sea is one of the world’s most pristine natural environments and the Marine Protected Area will help to safeguard this,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The previous National Government played a leading role in intense negotiations to get the unanimous agreement of 24 countries and the European Union to establish the Marine Protected Area.
“This significant achievement represents a major contribution to global marine protection. We fought hard for it because National is committed to protecting our environment for future generations.
“It’s a shame the new Government won’t continue the work we’ve done to establish New Zealand as a world leader in environmental and marine protection and create the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.”
National Party Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Gerry Brownlee condemns North Korea continuing its Nuclear Weapons and Ballistic Missile Programme, despite UN sanctions.
“The South Korean news agency Yonhap has confirmed a missile has been launched by North Korea and landed in Japan’s territorial sea.
“This latest launch reinforces North Korea’s belligerent attitude to the many affected countries’ concerns over escalating tension.
“North Korea’s action is unacceptable, and I call on the Government to continue the condemnation of these activities.”
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.