It was news on the Stuff website today that Russel Norman took a State Department-sponsored trip to the USA in 2009 and that our MPs have contact with the US embassy in NZ.
Apparently it was news because you can find a record of it in US embassy cables available on Wikileaks.
Russel’s trip was paid for by the US State Department, as part of a long-standing exchange program for New Zealand MPs and parliamentary staff.
Today’s article surmises that this contact –together with meetings between MPs and the embassy — has ‘blunted’ Green Party political positions. In fact, we are sometimes highly critical of US policy and sometimes in favour. For example:
We’re opposed to New Zealand’s support of the US-led war in Afghanistan.
We are in favour of green collar jobs initiatives from the US federal government.
We’re opposed to ‘free’ trade deals that favour US interests at the expense of New Zealanders.
We like it when the US president acknowledges an imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner and wish our PM would do the same.
We’re opposed to US corporate interests dictating legislation in NZ like Warner Brothers has.
… this list could go on at great length.
Newspapers aren’t always accurate. It was a sensational intro to the Stuff story today – Greens ‘seduced’ by US Govt – but not substantiated in anyway.
So if you want to know where we stand on any issues, come to our website, or call a Green MP.
You also don’t need Wikileaks to know that our MPs meet with diplomats on occasions.
Among others, our foreign affairs spokesperson Kennedy Graham has met with officials from the US Embassy in Wellington.
As a former diplomat, Kennedy is well aware of the normal protocol for these meetings and the need to keep in contact with foreign government officials.
A lunch is not a policy change and a meeting is not a sign of anything other than that the Greens are a mature political party that meets from time to time with foreign embassies.
Rather than being judged on a sensationalised account of a US officials views in a Wikileaks cable, we’d prefer to be judged on our actions.
We are pragmatic enough to know that we can’t simply ignore the US and , but principled enough to not be bought off when we meet with them.