April 8, 2005
NZ gearing up for Australia group plenary
SUBJECT: NEW ZEALAND GEARING UP FOR AUSTRALIA GROUP PLENARY
REF: A. STATE 56903
B. STATE 49648
C. STATE 42674
D. STATE 41247
E. STATE 39371
F. STATE 36488
Classified By: Acting DCM Katherine Hadda,
for reasons 1.4 (B), (D), and (H)
1. (C) Summary: New Zealand officials from the Prime
Minister's External Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and Trade, and Customs Service will attend the April
18-22 Australia Group (AG) Plenary in Sydney. The group does
not plan to present any papers or introduce any new
initiatives at the Plenary, and are still reviewing the
various U.S. proposals. MFAT officials (strictly protect)
say that New Zealand Customs will not take direction from
other NZ ministries about how to spend travel funds. The
officials recommend that U.S. Customs Service work directly
with their counterparts on the margins of the meeting in
order to ensure New Zealand Customs participates fully in AG
meetings and exercises. A briefing in New Zealand by U.S.
Customs would also be useful.
2. (C) On March 21, Pol-Econ Couns delivered Refs B-F to
Deborah Panckhurst, Deputy Director of the Disarmament
Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).
Panckhurst was joined by Export Controls Officer Wendy
Napier-Walker, who will be attending the April 18-22
Australia Group Plenary. On March 31, Pol-Couns provided Ref
A nonpaper to Napier-Walker and Disarmament Division Director
3. (SBU) Regarding Ref D, Panckhurst and Napier-Walker said
that the NZ delegation would not present any papers or
suggest any initiatives at the Plenary. Besides
Napier-Walker, the delegation will include three Customs
Officials: Mike Wotherspoon and Patrick Cruywajan of NZ
Customs Service in Wellington; and Jimmy McCone, NZ Customs
Liaison in Sydney. The delegation head will be Marlene
Castle, Prime Minister's Department, a Chemical/Biological
Weapons expert and long-time AG participant.
4. (C) Regarding Ref E, Panckhurst and Napier-Walker said
they would share the U.S. proposals on pumps with the NZ
Customs Service. Pol-Couns asked that they let her know if
Customs Officials felt it would be practically difficult for
them to implement the proposed changes. The idea is to make
things easier, she said. Panckhurst said they would also
share the biological agents proposal with other agencies.
While she herself is not an expert in this area, she said she
thought New Zealand will be unlikely to object if other AG
participants agreed to it.
5. (C) Both MFAT officials thought the U.S.-proposed
regional Nonproliferation Seminar (Ref F) sounded useful.
They highlighted proper identification of controlled chemical
exports as a particular area of interest for NZ Customs.
Often, they said, controlled and non-controlled substances
have similar names and it is difficult to verify substances
through testing. The two MFAT officials (strictly protect)
confessed to Pol-Econ Counselor that it is very hard for
their ministry to compel the participation of Customs Service
in any activity, as the Service basically chooses its own
agenda and travel. NZ Customs rarely is willing to fund
travel for officials to participate in Australia Group
meetings in Europe, for example. Panckhurst suggested that
direct approaches from U.S. Customs Service officials to
their NZ counterparts on the margins of the Plenary would be
the best means to get the NZ side on board. She also
suggested that a U.S. Customs Service visit to New Zealand to
brief NZ Customs and other officials on AG issues would be
6. (C) On April 8, Pol-Econ Couns checked back with
Napier-Walker, who said that Ministries had met on April 6 to
discuss their goals for the Australia Group. She said that
no formal decision had been taken on any of the U.S.
proposals, but that the group would meet again on April 13 to
conclude its discussions.