4 May 2017

Love thy neighbour - MPs praise NZ's Pacific advocacy

From The House, 6:55 pm on 4 May 2017

What the government has spent and how has been a hot topic in the House this week as MPs debate the Appropriation (2015/16 Confirmation and Validation) Bill but it’s also a chance for members to praise or critique the government’s performance.


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  Every year billions of dollars is spent by the government but things don’t always go to plan and sometimes a quick tidy up is needed before the financial year ends. Photo: 123RF


Each of the 13 select committees has compiled a report on departmental spending and performance which has been sent to the House of Representatives for annual review debate.


In the debate of foreign affairs, defence and trade New Zealand’s performance on the UN Security Council and its relationships with its Pacific neighbours were a universal point of positivity.


New Zealand’s membership lasted from January 2015 to December 2016 during which it sponsored a debate on peace and security for small island developing states (SIDS).


Labour MP Annette King said the committee’s report proved New Zealand did well in representing the concerns of SIDS.


“I suppose the way you can judge that is from what those small States said in their feedback, and they believed that our time on the Security Council was pretty successful, particularly in our ability to champion the small States at the Security Council,” she told the House.


“In fact, we managed to ensure that there was a session held on behalf of the small States where for the first time they got to speak at the Security Council, so that can be ticked off as an achievement for our time there.”


UN Security council SIDS meeting New York 30 July 2015

The UN Security Council open debate on maintaining peace and security in Small Islands Developing States held in July 2015. Photo: UN Photo/Cia Pak


Green Party MP Kennedy Graham said he made a point of attending the meeting.


“I have to say it was one of the more impressive meetings out of many, many UN meetings that I have participated in or observed,” he said.


“It was an outstanding day of debate, with 77 leaders, heads of Government, and Foreign Ministers somewhat passionately—and that is unusual for the Security Council—addressing the situation.”


He said it was not just about climate change but also on piracy, and money laundering but above all it was “a plea to all countries coming through from those leaders—and not least to New Zealand in the chair—to undertake more ambitious efforts at emissions mitigation for the sake of avoiding future climate change that will pose not simply an existential threat to those States but, actually, will have them disappear in some cases.”


Chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee Todd Muller hears from petitioners asking the government to address human rights issues in West Papua.

  National MP Todd Muller chairing the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee. Photo: RNZ / Daniela Maoate - Cox


The chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade Committee, National MP Todd Muller said as a member of the Security Council New Zealand was an effective global advocate for SIDS.


He said New Zealand provided “real concrete actions in terms of providing a forum for the small, developing nation States to actually get a forum across the whole United Nations.”

Ten hours are set aside for the annual review debate which is split over ten themes - the debate must be completed by budget day later this month.

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