McKinnon Says Parliament to Consider Treaties

  • Don McKinnon
Foreign Affairs and Trade

New Zealanders will learn more about our international relations, from next year, when Parliament considers major treaties before New Zealand becomes party to them," Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Don McKinnon announced today.

Mr McKinnon announced the initiative today at the Launch of the New Zealand Consolidated Treaty List (1.00pm, Beehive Function Room, ground floor). The Treaty List is a two volume reference containing all the treaties New Zealand has signed since colonial times.

Mr McKinnon said the change is broadly in line with the recommendations of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee. The Government will still retain the power to decide whether New Zealand becomes a party to a treaty, but beforehand, treaties will be tabled in Parliament and may be referred to a select committee.

"The new policy is a significant change from the current treaty making process," Mr McKinnon said.

"It gives all members of Parliament access to treaty details and an opportunity to discuss them prior to the Government signing.

"The Government will not ratify a treaty until the select committee has reported back, or 35 days have lapsed since the treaty was tabled."

Mr McKinnon said New Zealand currently signs on average 30 to 40 treaties a year.

"Because of the time involved in reviewing such a large number of treaties annually, the policy will apply primarily to multilateral treaties. Bilateral treaties will be tabled on a case by case basis. An analysis setting out the implications for New Zealanders, and why New Zealand should become a party, will accompany tabled treaties.

"The policy is part of the Government's commitment to keep Parliament and New Zealanders better informed about our international relationships and interests," he concluded.