Japan should remain in the International Whaling Commission and should stop all ‘scientific whaling’, National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Japanese media reports that Japan intends to leave the Commission and grant permits to its whaling fleet are extremely concerning. Currently the fleet operates in the Southern Ocean under the guise of ‘scientific whaling’.
“National supports the IWC’s moratorium on whaling that was agreed in 1986. Japan has insisted that its harvest is sustainable and based on long-standing cultural practices but it has persistently failed to justify the need to kill.
“The most effective way to keep pressure on Japan and remain in dialogue is for Japan to retain its seat at the IWC. Japan leaving the 72-year-old organisation would be a backward step in the conservation of these giant marine mammals.
“New Zealand must add its voice to the international opposition to Japanese whale harvest and National calls on the Government to take this up with Tokyo directly as soon as possible.”
National will overturn the Government’s support of the United Nations Compact for Migration, confirmed by Winston Peters today in spite of his reluctance to front up to New Zealanders, National’s Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Mr Peters has sprung the signing of the Compact on New Zealanders on the last day of Parliament, even though both he and the Prime Minister were this week still claiming no decision had been made. The Compact has been under consideration since February.
“The decision is an unwelcome one.
“In spite of the spin from Mr Peters the legal advice clearly bears out the concerns raised by National. It accepts that New Zealand courts have an obligation to interpret our laws with the Compact consistently and by supporting it the Government has also indicated their intention to act consistently with it.
“This already happens, for example UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, another non-binding declaration, is already being used to interpret New Zealand law. Mr Peters was right when he said to the media two weeks ago ‘non-binding sometimes means binding’.
“National is Parliament’s most pro-immigration party. We know the benefits migration brings. But we believe individual countries should set their own immigration policy to meet their own needs. This document seeks to restrict that and that’s why National does not support it and will overturn it.
“If the Government wasn’t concerned why has it been so secretive and why has it waited til the very last day of Parliament to front up?”
Winston Peters’ continued refusal to make a decision and tell the public what New Zealand’s position on the United Nations Global Compact on Migration is shameful, National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“This morning the Prime Minister confirmed that a final decision is yet to be made on whether New Zealand is signing up to the Global Compact on Migration or not and we are all waiting on the Foreign Affairs Minister, Winston Peters, to make up his mind.
“It beggars belief that the Foreign Minister is still considering what New Zealand’s decision will be.
“The Government has been negotiating this agreement since February, and the Minister signed off on our negotiating position then. The Minister also received a final draft in July, and New Zealand attended the adoption meeting in Morocco last week and yet New Zealanders are still being kept in the dark.
“This is a serious matter. When New Zealand commits to frameworks such as these on the global stage, it is the public’s interests at stake.
“But even after weeks of questioning by National, the Government seems no closer to providing information on whether they will commit us to this United Nations framework.
“New Zealanders deserve better.
“National is committed to a fair and open system of immigration that values the contribution migrants bring to New Zealand. But it is for New Zealand to set the rules and policies that work for us – not this United Nations framework.”
The Government’s confusion over the United Nations Global Compact on Migration shows an absence of accountability, National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Overnight, world leaders, foreign ministers and New Zealand’s UN representative have gathered in Morocco and adopted this Compact, but instead of telling New Zealanders what its position is, Winston Peters today simply denied that the compact had been adopted.
“This is despite the Secretary-General of the United Nations issuing a statement from Morocco welcoming the adoption yesterday.
“Staggeringly, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has denied being briefed on the Compact, despite MBIE publishing a briefing to Winston Peters from 7 March 2018 asking him to agree to the final negotiating parameters.
“The Government has had the final text of this agreement since July this year.
“It defies belief that a Government who has been so deeply involved in negotiations has had the text of the agreement for months and has sent a representative to Morocco to adopt the compact still refuses to tell the public its position.
“In contrast, National Party Leader and Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges has been very clear on our position and announced our opposition to the agreement last week.
“New Zealand has an excellent immigration system and our country should be proud of our openness. But the Global Compact on Migration is not in our interests.”
For the second day Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters has defended the United Nations Compact for Migration that would give the United Nations a say on New Zealand’s immigration policy, but is refusing to tell the public what the Government’s position is, National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“It is an appalling breach of public trust that the Government continues to keep Kiwis in the dark over their plans, especially because there are just four days before the United Nations (UN) agreement will be signed in Morocco.
“I called on the Minister to release all Government advice on the Compact and to put the issue to Parliament for a vote before committing New Zealand to it, however he has refused.
“Australia, the United States, Israel, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia have all joined a growing list of countries who have said they will not sign the agreement sighting concerns over its ability to restrict their sovereign right to set migration policy.
“Switzerland and Italy have confirmed they will give the Parliaments a vote on the issue before committing to the Agreement.
“The Government should not sign this Agreement. The Agreement treats legal and illegal migration the same and calls for restrictions on freedom of speech and the media. It is likely to have a detrimental effect on New Zealand’s ability to set independent policy today and in the future.
“National’s position is clear. Leader Simon Bridges earlier this week said National opposed the UN Agreement and would pull New Zealand out of it in Government.”
National has called on the Government to join other likeminded countries in condemning the use of military action by Russia on Ukrainian ships, National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Todd McClay says.
“The recent use of force to capture Ukrainian vessels and citizens violated the 2003 agreement between Russia and Ukraine and National condemns those actions in the strongest possible terms.
“We join the governments of likeminded countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union Member states as well as NATO in condemning Russia’s unprovoked actions.
“We call on Russia to release the 24 Ukrainian sailors it has detained and to enter into meaningful talks with the Ukrainian Government in respect of disputed territories and free access to the Crimean Peninsula.
“But while a growing number of countries that New Zealand shares common values with have spoken out against Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine as they amass more than 80,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, our Government once again is silent.
“The Government should progress the Autonomous Sanctions Bill, launched by the previous Government. Doing so would allow us to better stand up against this type of aggression by imposing sanctions, outside of the UN process.”
Just 14 days after the Rotorua Rescue Helicopter service was scrapped lives are already being put at risk, MP for Rotorua Todd McClay says.
“Yesterday a man working on a forestry site near Rotorua received an electric shock from powerlines. The 35-year-old Tauranga chopper was being serviced in Auckland and the Taupo helicopter was out on another job.
“This was a serious incident. Ambulances had to drive to the scene when a chopper would have been able to get there much faster.
“Rotorua was given assurance that we would have a better rescue service and faster response times. Yet just two weeks after our chopper was taken away, it’s been proven that this is not the case.
“There was only one rescue chopper available for the Bay of Plenty area this week and that is appalling.
“Rotorua needs its own rescue helicopter and the Government must reverse its decision to close our bases.
“The Rotorua base was the only one in the country to close. Frankly this is not good enough. Local people are right to be angry. The Government and Philips Trust have questions to answer.”
The Prime Minister needs to use her visit to Singapore this week to sign the stalled New Zealand – Singapore Enhanced Partnership negotiations which has now been delayed by seven months, National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“The National-led Government was set to sign a major Enhanced Partnership agreement with Singapore covering the areas of trade and economics, security and defence, people-to-people links and research, technology and innovation in April this year.
“It is now 332 days since Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters boasted in Parliament that the Enhanced Partnership with Singapore would be signed quickly.
“However under this Government the comprehensive upgrade to the $2.5 billion two-way economic relationship with Singapore has completely stalled.
“This was initially due to Singapore’s frustration that it wasn’t originally exempted from the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill. But that was settled thanks to a late Government backdown in September.
“It is imperative that the Government makes this deal a priority. Australia is already reaping the financial and relationship benefits of upgrading its similar arrangements with Singapore over two years ago, and New Zealand needs to catch up.
“One important element of the proposed deal is for Singapore to conduct air training at Ohakea for its F15 aircraft. This would have a huge economic benefit to the Manawatu region with over 500 personnel based here, and would help build on the long, strong ties between our two Defence Forces.
“In December last year, 332 days ago, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said he was ‘delighted to confirm talks were continuing,’ and that given he was part of a ‘new Government with a bit of drive and action’ the Ohakea proposal would get ‘settled much faster’ than under the last Government.
“We haven’t heard a peep since.
“Whether and when this comprehensive upgrade with Singapore gets over the line will be a big test for the Prime Minister this week in Singapore.”
National congratulates Dame Annette King on her appointment as New Zealand's High Commissioner to Australia, National's Foreign Affairs and Trade Spokesperson, Todd McClay says.
"The role of High Commissioner in Australia is a very important one and Dame Annette certainly has the experience to build on our relationship with Australia and provide the care and maintenance that is needed.
"New Zealand’s relationship with Australia has floundered as a result of a number of unnecessary disagreements and mishandlings by the Labour-led Government.
"It will be important for our new High Commissioner to repair any damage that has been done over the last year. It is in the best interests of Australia and New Zealand that our two governments continue to have respect for each other and work closely together.
"I am pleased that the strong objections to political appointments previously held by Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters have been dropped.
“Given the importance of our membership of the Five Eyes, Mr Peters should in future not rule out similar appointments of effective and appropriate people to maximise the influence that membership of the Five Eyes offers New Zealand.”
The Government should be doing all it can to ensure New Zealand reaps the benefits of the boom in tourism but the only firm decision in its draft tourism strategy is to impose another tax, National’s Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Support for tourism is about priorities and while the strategy outlines some worthy goals to boost the value of tourism it is short on immediate action that the sector needs.
“New taxes on visitors, working groups and reviews simply aren’t the answer for a sector which welcomed a record 3.8 million visitors last year and needs Government action now.
“A new tax isn’t a silver bullet for the tourism sector. It won’t see any new revenue from the tax for years and with Australians excluded, 40 per cent of our international visitors won’t have to pay the levy anyway.
“It’s important to put the new tax in context. Visitors already contribute over $2 billion a year in GST and other taxes. The visitor tax would raise $80 million but that’s money visitors could otherwise spend in the local communities and businesses it purports to help.
“The last National Government offered tangible support with the Tourism Infrastructure Fund established last year and a $76 million package to support our walking tracks and huts. This was achieved without sticking a tax on visitors at our border.
“Those policies are still delivering value to the sector across the country.
“Given the size and value of the tourism industry, we need a Government that is serious about investing in projects and infrastructure now. It is lazy governance to kick for touch with a working group and invent another tax.”