Simon Collins

Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

NZ should abandon Security Council bid - Act

Prime Minister John Key meets UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at Auckland Airport this morning. Photo / Chris Gorman
Prime Minister John Key meets UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at Auckland Airport this morning. Photo / Chris Gorman

Government support party Act says New Zealand should abandon its bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council because it would make some countries our enemies.

Act Epsom candidate David Seymour told a Disability Support Network election forum today that the United Nations was "not a credible organisation" because it allowed "terrorist states" to tell New Zealand what to do.

Speaking during a visit to Auckland by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, he criticised the National-led Government's campaign for a seat on the 15-member Security Council for 2015-16 which will be elected in New York next month.

"One of New Zealand's great advantages in the world is that we don't have any enemies," he said.

"Being on the Security Council is going to put us in a position where we create enemies, and I actually think that New Zealand's position as an honest broker in the world is strengthened by not getting into these kinds of international power plays.

"The Security Council is going to make resolutions -- not that it's going to be taken very seriously by any actual aggressors. Do we want to be making enemies in the world?"

His comments came when all parties were asked whether they would support ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, which gives people a right to appeal to the UN after exhausting all avenues within a country to achieve recognition of their rights.

New Zealand led a long fight for the convention, which was signed in 2006, but it has not yet signed the optional protocol. Australia acceded to the protocol in 2009 and it has been signed so far by 92 countries.

Labour's Kelston candidate Carmel Sepuloni and Green MP Mojo Mathers said their parties were committed to signing the optional protocol.

Maori Party Upper Harbour candidate Hinurewa Te Hau said the protocol "needs to be advanced".

National's Mt Roskill candidate Dr Parmjeet Parmar said National would "look into working with different agencies on this".

But Mr Seymour said: "We are not necessarily against this charter, but I have got to say that the United Nations as an organisation has countries that are frankly terrorist states on the Security Council telling countries like New Zealand how to do their business, so it has never been a priority of ours to follow the United Nations."

Later he said: "It simply is not a credible organisation that has people from countries like Afghanistan lecturing New Zealand about human rights, and countries like Zimbabwe lecturing us about the environment, and countries that have no history of settler relations with indigenous people like New Zealand and Canada have lecturing us on those issues. A lot of people have lost faith in the United Nations and for very good reason."

Mr Seymour also found himself in a minority in response to another question on what the parties would do to help disability services recruit and retain quality staff.

Labour, the Greens and NZ First president Anne Martin all said they would raise the minimum wage -- to $16.25 an hour within a year (Labour), $18 by 2017 (Green) or $17 (NZ First). Ms Te Hau said the Maori Party was also "committed to the living wage".

But Mr Seymour and Dr Parmar warned that big jumps in minimum wages would force employers to reduce staffing.

"If you come from Wellington and make a law saying 'Thou shalt pay this much as a minimum wage or living wage,' then organisations will be forced to make budgeting decisions that may actually reduce the number of people working for you," Mr Seymour told the disability groups.

Dr Parmar said: "We don't need legislation to increase the minimum wage at the cost of employment because that means employers will be cutting down staff and creating unemployment."

- NZ Herald

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