From Heather Roy
Tomorrow will see people around the country celebrating the 20th anniversary of Labour’s New Zealand Nuclear-Free Zone Disarmament and Arms Control Act – a piece of legislation that has long outlived its relevance and that is now having negative repercussions on the nation, ACT New Zealand National Security Spokesman Heather Roy said.
“In today’s nuclear-free debate, it is often forgotten that Lange’s initial intention was simply to ban nuclear weapons – it was only after much persuasion that he agreed to also ban nuclear-propelled vessels from New Zealand waters,” Mrs Roy said.
“In 1992, however, the Cabinet-commissioned Somers Report found nuclear-propelled ships to be safe and stated that the dangers lay largely only in the mind of opponents of nuclear propulsion.
“Yet, today, nuclear-powered ships are still not allowed to enter New Zealand waters – and, for some time, all nuclear-powered vessels have been banned from carrying nuclear weapons.
“The fact is that Labour’s nuclear-free legislation has passed its use-by date – and, by clinging to it, we are allowing relations with our traditional allies to deteriorate: British and US warships – whether nuclear or conventionally-powered – never visit New Zealand, and we are no longer privy to the high level of security intelligence or joint training exercises our defence force previously enjoyed.
“New Zealand has made a huge contribution to international peace and freedom, but we’ve also been a recipient of foreign military assistance – particularly from the US during the Pacific Theatre of WWII. Clinging to this outdated means we may not be able to rely on such assistance again.
“Helen Clark says we live in ‘a benign strategic environment’ – she is wrong. The reality is that New Zealand is at risk of external threats and can no longer rely on our allies to come to our aid when we have gone a long way towards alienating them,” Mrs Roy said.