Labour's Foreign Policy 'Populism will prevail over Principle'

  • Don McKinnon
Foreign Affairs and Trade

Labour's foreign policy would likely to see a return to `populism over principles', Foreign Minister Don McKinnon said today.

Speaking to the National Party in Gore Mr McKinnon said when the national Government came to power in 1990 the international landscape was vastly different and New Zealand had few friends and little leverage with anyone.

"New Zealanders need foreign policy leadership. Our unfailing dedicated and consistent approach to rebuilding relations over nine years has seen us achieve international recognition and a truly global profile," Mr McKinnon said.

"My concern is that a Labour-led Government would undo this and see New Zealand out of step internationally."

"Labour have bee populist, inconsistent and negative on foreign policy.

"First up they wanted to derail the APEC meeting with what would have been a disastrous approach to the crisis in East Timor.

"For nine months they opposed non-UN intervention in Kosovo, yet couldn't wait nine minutes to get our troops into East Timor.

"Riding the populist wave Labour and the Alliance suggested we basically attack Indonesia. Our 500 troops would have been annihilated against the many thousands of militia and Indonesian forces. All their propositions were ridiculous."

Mr McKinnon said he was also concerned Labour had been so negative about APEC given New Zealand's future lies in the Asia Pacific region.

"Helen Clark said the APEC process had run out of steam.

As Chair of APEC we made real progress towards strengthening markets and making it easier to do business internationally. In addition we signed a free trade agreement with Singapore and kick-started a potential free trade agreement with the US, Chile, Singapore and Australia.

"APEC accounts for eight of our top ten export markets. We want to grow the business. How does Ms Clark expect to create jobs if our exporters don't have any customers?

"Sadly Ms Clark prefers to play the grim reaper rather than be positive about the future of APEC.

"She should take a lead from the more than 60% of New Zealanders who said the success of APEC made them feel good."