Winston's comments – hardly a class act

  • Don McKinnon
Foreign Affairs and Trade

Using war veterans as a platform for political posturing is hardly a class act, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Don McKinnon said today.

Mr McKinnon was responding to claims by Mr Peters that the Government's decision to provide $4 million to assist disarm Korea of nuclear weapons was a "sell out", while the Government had refused to give financial aid to kiwi veterans of British Nuclear tests in the Pacific (Operation Grapple) during the 1950s.

Winston is wrong.

"Operation Grapple victims are entitled to veteran pensions and war disablement pensions in the same way as WWII veterans.

"Providing a $200,000 grant to the NZ Nuclear Test Veterans Association to bring a class action against the United Kingdom Government over nuclear tests performed on Christmas Island would be impractical and see huge amounts of money tied up in a legal action that could take years, with no guarantee of success.

"Mr Peters would have these veterans wait years for certainty, while this Government has acknowledged their concerns and ensured they now have access to the compensation they are entitled to.

"Mr Peters also seeks to misrepresent the Government's contribution to KEDO , an international consortium led by the US, South Korea and Japan to assist with disarming North Korea of its nuclear weapons.

"Kedo is working to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons by closing down North Korean reactors that produce bomb material and replacing them with light water nuclear reactors which don't.

"New Zealand's funding helps provide an interim supply of oil to North Korea until the new reactors are completed.

North Koreans are starving. The provision of oil helps to keep their factories going, to enable them to produce more fertiliser to grow more food. Oil is also vital to assist with rebuilding their collapsing transport system.

"Just last year North Korea launched a missile. Ongoing development of nuclear weapons by North Korea, coupled with its long range missile capability would be highly destabilising for the whole region.
"By contributing to KEDO, New Zealand is helping to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in the region."

Peters considers this a "sell out".

Hardly a class act.