• Jenny Shipley
Prime Minister

Don McKinnon's appointment as Secretary General of the Commonwealth is an honour for New Zealand and for Don McKinnon personally, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said today.

"New Zealanders can be proud of this appointment. Don McKinnon's long experience as a respected foreign minister, peacemaker, and servant of the Commonwealth equip him to play the important role of Secretary General with distinction.

"The Commonwealth is a uniquely influential grouping Its 54 member nations represent all the world's regions, and include the world's largest and smallest democracies, as well as industrial and developing economies," the Prime Minister said.

"The Commonwealth's shared commitment to democratic ideals means it speaks with particular moral authority on good governance, trade and development, and international political issues. Don's role, in recent years, as Vice Chair of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group means he is well placed to help Commonwealth members achieve good governance, and carry out the Commonwealth's wishes when members fall short of their obligations to Commonwealth ideals.

"The consensus decision by Commonwealth leaders is also a vote of confidence in New Zealand. Our longstanding record and commitment to international peacekeeping, fairness in world trade, and sustainable development have all assisted in building support for Don McKinnon's appointment.

"Together, Don McKinnon and Mike Moore have now broken new ground for New Zealand. Never before have we had New Zealanders at the head of two major international organisations. Both Don and Mike will serve the international community with distinction in the years ahead and we are proud of them," Mrs Shipley said.

Mr McKinnon is expected to take up his appointment from March of next year. The Prime Minister said she would discuss the timing of his resignation from the House after his return to New Zealand. As a list MP, Mr McKinnon's resignation from Parliament will not affect the balance of seats in the new parliament.