Clark laughs off Australian briefing notes

By Claire Trevett

NIUE - Helen Clark has laughed off an embarrassing briefing note, describing her as controlling, that Australian officials provided to journalists covering the Pacific Islands Forum leaders' meeting.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is understood to be concerned after the notes were given to media.

The briefing said she trusted few people and had "foreign policy perspectives forged during the Vietnam War".

The notes were in a booklet prepared by officials for Australian media covering Mr Rudd's trip early this week to New Zealand.

Helen Clark said the incident was amusing.

"I thought it was quite funny. But as I say, if I was to have my CVs on other leaders fall off the back of trucks, you would all have a lot of laughs as well," she said.

After listing her academic background and political career, the brief bio of Helen Clark said she was "renowned for her managerial skill, the discipline she demands from those around her and her tight control of all things Labour undertakes under her leadership".

The notes added: "She does not trust those outside a small circle in Labour and her chief of staff, Heather Simpson, is known as the second most powerful person in New Zealand (known as H2)."

It says her views are "generally left wing, with foreign policy perspectives forged during the Vietnam War".

It appears the note was initially prepared some time ago, when John Howard was Australia's Prime Minister, because it refers to Clark's "newly formed" governing arrangement with NZ First and United Future.

Helen Clark said officials should be more efficient.

"I am a bit surprised that DFAT would draw up something that was clearly written about the time of the last election. There you go, maybe they need to be more efficient," Clark said.

"I think it is a pretty minor thing. I had a bit of a laugh."

Mr Rudd is understood to have been briefed on the biography after media spotted it yesterday and is seeking an explanation as to how it was used.

- With AAP

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