PM must reveal UN costs - Labour

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 16:20 11/06/2014
Waikato Times

Prime Minister John Key is not prepared to divulge the cost of New Zealand's bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.

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Prime Minister John Key is refusing to reveal the cost of the diplomatic effort to secure a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Key said the campaign to secure a security council seat was costing "a relatively small amount".

But giving away campaign secrets before the vote for who got the seats, would be like All Blacks coach Steve Hansen revealing his tactics ahead of a test match against England, he said.

Labour is demanding Key makes the cost public after it emerged that as many as 60 diplomats have been flown to New Zealand as the Government pushes for a Security Council seat.

Another group is here this week visiting Queenstown and other areas, before moving to Hamilton for the national agricultural Fieldays.

Key has confirmed he hosted one group of UN permanent representatives during their fully-funded tour through New Zealand - including entertaining them at Government House.

But while Key has refused to release the cost of the visits, he rejected suggestions New Zealand was trying to buy votes.

Labour leader David Cunliffe tended to agree with the bid, but said the cost should be made public.

"There's nothing in itself wrong with investing diplomatic resources in a major issue like the security council, and that may well occur under either government," he said on Firstline.

"But the Government needs to be up-front about this. I think that the public's entitled to know the cost of this programme - the Government won't say.

"It certainly should be transparent in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's accounts."

New Zealand has been lobbying for a seat on the Security Council since 2008, when former prime minister Helen Clark announced the bid.

With a vote due at the end of this year, the Government has stepped up its diplomacy, with Key set to return to New York next week to glad-hand more potential supporters among the 190-strong UN diplomatic corps.

The vote is by secret ballot and the permanent representatives hold huge sway over the outcome, with some given discretion by their governments on how they vote.

New Zealand is up against Turkey and Spain for one of the two non-permanent seats.

Key said today it was a seven-year contest and New Zealand had invested "a lot of time and energy" into getting back on to the Security Council, on which it last served 20 years ago.

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