Election 2011: Don't lock out Fiji 'family', says Brash

By Derek Cheng

Act Party leader Don Brash says New Zealand trades and deals with dictatorships and effective dictatorships throughout the world - so why not Fiji?

The party is pitching for the NZ-Fijian vote this year in an effort to bolster its support, which has consistently been at about 1 to 1.5 per cent.

At the party's election campaign launch in Auckland yesterday, Dr Brash said New Zealand should not be keeping Fijian dictator Frank Bainimarama at arms' length.

"Fiji has long been family ... we need to rebuild a positive relationship with that country."

He told reporters afterwards that the party was not endorsing dictatorships, but indicated New Zealand should be working with countries where benefits were potentially lucrative, regardless of the political system.

"We deal with those countries, we don't hesitate to deal with them, because it is in our interest to do so."

He did not want to name countries, but New Zealand's free trade agreement with China has helped shelter New Zealand from the global economic conditions in recent years.

"We deal with a lot of different political regimes. Some of them are very nasty, military regimes. Some of them nothing like the democracies of our kind.

"I suspect the leaders of some of the countries in Asia are effectively dictators. We deal with them all the time."

New Zealand has taken a hard line against Fiji until Fiji shows real steps towards restoring democracy.

Rebuilding relations with Fiji was one of nine priorities Dr Brash pressed during his speech at the launch.

Act's policy priorities:

* Future Government spending to increase only at the rate of inflation and population growth, except in national emergencies.

* Reducing Government spending to work towards cutting the top tax rate to 25 per cent and the company tax rate to 12.5 per cent.

* Changing the Resource Management Act and the Local Government Act to loosen the control local authorities have over development.

* Axing the Emissions Trading Scheme.

* Giving parents more choice in which school to send their children, and publishing more information about school, teacher and pupil performance.

* Lifting the eligibility age for NZ Super to 67, but promoting cross-party support for future changes.

* Enshrining the right to self-defence in the Bill of Rights Act, and taking a no-tolerance stance on youth minor offending.

* Abolishing Maori seats in Parliament, Maori wards on local authorities, and special consultation rights for Maori.

* Rebuilding the relationship with Fiji.

- NZ Herald

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