Air New Zealand and Government ministers should step up and take responsibility for the debacle over our national carrier ferrying Australian troops to the Iraq war.
“Foreign Ministry secretary Simon Murdoch has volunteered to be the fall guy, but Air New Zealand and the Government are also to blame,” Green Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke says.
“Air New Zealand was in clear violation of one of its official ‘guiding principles’ to ‘champion and promote New Zealand and its people, culture and business at home and overseas’.
“It is absurd that Air New Zealand’s chairman John Palmer gets off the hook just because he was given the green light by the Ministry. Mr Palmer was perfectly aware of the huge opposition among New Zealanders to the war and Australia’s involvement in it. That’s clearly why the two flights were kept out of the public eye.
“Instead of excusing Mr Palmer, the shareholding Minister, Dr Cullen, should push for a shake-up at Air New Zealand, and try to bring the organisation back to accepted ethical standards.
“The Government must also take a significant measure of the blame for being so soft on the current activities of Australian and American forces in Iraq. Of course, they continue to criticise the original decision to invade. But we’ve seen our Foreign Minister warn against an earlier withdrawal, our Prime Minister with a ‘don’t mention the war’ policy in Washington, and Ministers repeatedly rejecting Green Party appeals for New Zealand to speak out against American human rights violations, from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay,” says Mr Locke.
“The Government is far too complacent about Australia’s participation in this American-led war. How else do you explain so many Foreign Affairs officials and those in the Government’s joint officials group all making such a gross error, fundamentally at odds with New Zealand public opinion?