New Zealand must choose a side in the escalating situation in Venezuela, National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“We have now seen waves of mass protests by Venezuelans who are taking to the streets in opposition to a presidential result widely seen as illegitimate.
“The situation worsens by the day and we cannot continue to claim to be supporters of democracy while the democratic crisis deepens. But the Government is refusing to act.
“By refusing to take a stand to endorse the interim presidency of Juan Guaido, the President of the National Assembly, the Government is de facto endorsing the incumbent regime which is refusing to hold a fresh and fair election.
“That positions New Zealand alongside the likes of Russia and Syria, rather than with our traditional allies including the UK, Canada, the US and Australia who support Mr Guaido.
“The Venezuelan constitution stipulates that without a valid claim to the presidency, the elected President of the Venezuelan National Assembly must step in as interim President to shepherd in new elections.
“The position of countries including the US, Germany, France, Spain, the UK, Canada, Brazil, Paraguay, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Chile, Guatemala, Panama, Honduras, Georgia, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, Lithuania, Austria, Latvia, the Netherlands, Finland, Poland, Estonia, Luxembourg, Israel and Portugal is that there isn’t a valid claim on the presidency by any party.
“Just like with the Foreign Minister’s refusal to condemn Russia for the Salisbury nerve-agent attack, New Zealand is again being left behind by our allies by refusing to do the right thing.
“It is vital that fair and free elections are held in Venezuela as soon as possible. The fastest way for that to happen is for the international community to recognise Mr Guaido, as the leader of the National Assembly, and to echo the call for new elections.”
Tourism has been at record levels but anecdotal signs of a slowdown mean the last thing the Government should be doing is imposing new taxes on tourists, National’s Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Recent reports indicating a slowdown in one of our largest industries are worrying and should be jolting the Government into action to help support the tourism sector. Taxing tourists is unhelpful – it will drive tourism away.
“New Zealand’s tourism sector is particularly exposed to changes around the world. When downturns occur in key markets like China and Europe, our industry will face challenges.
“This is why the Government needs to rethink their plans to put a tax on tourists coming into the country. It carries a high risk of being a deterrent when people overseas are deciding where to spend their holidays.
“The Minister of Tourism has now spent more than a year figuring out how to put more taxes on the tourism industry but the Government’s own advice shows a tax is likely to deter visitors, resulting in up to $70 million in lost revenue for New Zealand communities.
“It will be even worse if other new taxes, such as bed taxes that we already see in Auckland become more widespread.
“The Government promised $70-80 million for tourism. It hasn’t delivered and in fact has taken us backwards and delivered budget cuts and now it is working on taxes that will drive tourists away and leave less money in the sector.
“The last National Government made tourism a priority. In 2017 alone we established the $100 million Tourism Infrastructure Fund to help support the growth underway in the tourism industry and added $76 million to the Department of Conservation to upgrade our tourism facilities.
“This is the type of action we need to be seeing from this Minister - policy that prioritises the tourism industry and recognises its value to New Zealand. New taxes will drive people away from New Zealand. It’s time the Government delivered real solutions.”
The Government must consider taking the EU to the WTO if it follows through on threats to remove preferential access for our lamb and butter post-Brexit, National’s Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“Following a vote in the influential European Parliament this week New Zealand exporters are set to have their rights and market access severely limited. They need to know the Government is acting urgently to protect their interests.
“The EU Parliament has taken a major step towards unilaterally restricting New Zealand’s trade with the bloc by voting to remove our duty-free Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQ) for lamb and butter.
“The Prime Minister’s assurances that New Zealand would be no worse off as a result of Brexit will be meaningless unless the Government takes swift action. Its silence on this important issue is extremely concerning.
“New Zealand exporters were right to be worried and the Prime Minister must urgently explain exactly what she said to EU leaders about our butter and lamb access. Did she raise TRQs with them and what assurances if any did she receive?
“TRQs were won for NZ when Britain joined the European Community in 1973. They were notified and agreed by the WTO and New Zealand exporters have relied upon them for almost fifty years.
“The EU can’t be allowed to remove them unilaterally. The government must act swiftly and inform the EU that any move to remove TRQs will result in a WTO complaint.
“This is now urgent. If there is a no Brexit deal our rights could be restricted as soon as 30 March this year with some exporters facing higher tariffs into the UK and EU market.
“This Government didn’t take tariff increases on New Zealand steel and aluminium exports to the US seriously last year. The same can’t be allowed to happen for lamb and butter exports to the EU.
“The Prime Minister needs to back up her assurance that New Zealand will be no worse off after Brexit because it will be an unachievable claim if our exporters face reduced access or higher tariffs into the important EU market.”
23 January 2019: New Zealand exporters need the government to provide certainty over the costs that will be imposed on their goods if a no-deal Brexit occurs, National’s Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“The Government has just signed a mutual recognition agreement between New Zealand and the UK however big questions remain unanswered on tariff rates and quotas for New Zealand goods exported to the UK if a Brexit deal fails.
“The NZ Government said last week that Britain was always heading towards a hard Brexit. This calls into question access for dairy and butter exports to the UK and other EU counties under a preferential quota system.
“In announcing an agreement the Prime Minister has been silent on treatment of our most important exports to the UK and what tariffs and quotas will be applied.
“Unless clarity is provided quickly New Zealand meat and dairy exporters could be adversely affected from 1 April this year.
“The Prime Minister can’t make good on her promise that New Zealand won’t be worse off after Brexit unless we can ensure our exports do not face reduced access or greater tariffs.
“Given the annual $1.6 billion of goods New Zealand exports to the UK, including meat, dairy, fruit and beverages, we need to ensure secure access to this market.
“Our exporters are facing a time of uncertainty in Europe and need the Government to outline whether their talks with the UK provided any certainty in this issue that will leave New Zealand worse off.”
New Zealand must join the international community in calling for fresh elections in Venezuela, National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“The democratic crisis in Venezuela has reached the point where the only reasonable option is to hold fresh elections that are free from corruption and interference.
“New Zealand cannot and should not sit on the side lines and watch as Venezuela descends into chaos and the people continue to have their democratic will suppressed.
“We must act consistently with our principles by advocating for a democratic solution, putting the future of their country back in the hands of the Venezuelan people and calling for a new Presidential election.
“This would echo the calls for fresh elections from countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain.
“Other countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Chile, Guatemala, Panama and Honduras have all expressed support for the Opposition in Venezuela.
“New Zealand cannot simply ignore the issues facing the world and we must be clear about our commitment to democracy.”
The Prime Minister needs to listen to the tourism industry and appoint an Associate Minister for Tourism to ensure the Government is doing all it can to support New Zealand’s biggest export earner, National’s Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“It is obvious that the sector doesn’t have confidence in the current minister and Jacinda Ardern should heed their calls. Tourism is too important to New Zealand to be assigned just a part-time minister juggling other portfolios.
“Tourists spend $107 million a day across New Zealand, or about $39 billion a year, and tourism, directly and indirectly, accounts for almost one in seven jobs. The record influx of visitors has put pressure on our tourism infrastructure like never before.
“The Government has chosen to ignore the pleas of the tourism industry that its size and importance warrants an associate to support Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis. Tourism is one of New Zealand’s growth engines – spending by tourists has surged 44 per cent in the past five years and the sector now makes up more than 10 per cent of the economy.
“Mr Davis promised millions of dollars towards fixing overcrowding and increased demand at our most popular destinations for summer yet many are again overwhelmed by visitors.
“The last National Government introduced the Tourism Infrastructure Fund and a $76 million package to alleviate pressure off our scenic hotspots for Kiwis. While so far the only suggestion from the Minister in the past year has been five new working groups.
“The Minister also promised that regions would see some of the funding generated from this Government’s Tourist tax. Yet the lack of prioritisation and action from the Minister means that regions will not see any funding till late 2020.
“While Mr Davis may think that a new tax on visitors, working groups and reviews is a substantial tourism strategy, the standstill in our scenic hotspots show that the regions are calling out for real leadership and a proper, detailed plan from this Government.”
National is welcoming tariff reductions that will begin tomorrow as a result of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. The Government must now do everything possible to bring the US back into the TPP, National’s Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson Todd McClay says.
“The CPTPP tariff reductions were negotiated under the previous National Government through the TPP and I am extremely pleased to see them begin to benefit New Zealanders today. The Labour-NZ First Government now needs to deliver on better trade access to the US.
“From tomorrow New Zealand exporters will see tariff reductions under the first FTA with Japan, Mexico and Canada. A further round of tariff cuts will also come into effect from 1 January.
“However without the US, this agreement falls short on the economic opportunities that would have been available to New Zealand under the original TPP12.
“The US is our largest beef and wine market and our second largest dairy market. It is also the world’s largest consumer market. For the good of our exporters the Labour-NZ First Government needs to pull out all the stops to entice the US back to the TPP agreement they inherited.
“The re-entry of the US would be welcome news to New Zealand businesses and consumers who after years of negotiations and public meetings expect the Government to push New Zealand’s trade interests overseas.
“I am also pleased to see the current Minister of Trade, David Parker, joining National in supporting this agreement rather than marching against it.
“Breaking down barriers to trade helps New Zealand to grow our economy, create more jobs, deliver higher incomes and provide more choices to consumers.”
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.”