You could be forgiven for thinking that our only interest in other countries under this government, is how much money we can make out of them.
Yesterday, at an NZIIA seminar at Victoria University, I released our Foreign Affairs policy. MurrayMcCully had given the opening speech and every country or region he mentioned was couched in terms of our Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with them, an emerging FTA with them, the desirability of an FTA or other bilateral economic agreement with them and how well we were doing because of them.
Don’t get me wrong – I am a great supporter of FTAs as long as we don’t concede our sovereignty and they can be negotiated in a more open way which engages the non-government sector as well. But for Labour, Foreign Affairs is also about peace, security, conflict resolution, disarmament, multilateralism, human rights, climate change, environmental protection and restoration, disaster relief, good governance and democratic representation, and most importantly, people to people exchanges and relationships.
Without a viable and secure planet, all the global supply chains you can think of count for nothing.
Our independent foreign policy is a source of great pride for us. It has been most enhanced in our history by great Labour Prime Ministers: Peter Fraser, Norman Kirk, David Lange and Helen Clark. We will build on that tradition.
We will bring human rights and a commitment to multilateral international decision-making back to the fore again. They have been languishing on the back burner under the National government.
Have a look at the policy – comments are welcomed.
Oh – and for those who wonder why there is no mention of Afghanistan – that is simply because our position on that is well known, has been well reported and has been the same since late 2005. In case you have missed it (!) : Labour would not have sent the fourth rotation of SAS troops back to Afghanistan. The SAS should no longer be deployed there. A Labour government will bring them home. We will progressively withdraw our Provincial Reconstruction Team as well, in an exit strategy worked out in consultation with other forces with whom we are working in Bamyan. The fight can only be won in Afghanistan if the government there wins the hearts and minds of the people. That hasn’t happened. Time to come home.