14 Nov 2003

Tongan delegation looks at New Zealand's parliamentary system

11:46 am on 14 November 2003

New Zealand's Minister of Pacific Island Affairs, Phil Goff, says it's up to Tonga to decide whether it wants to reform its parliamentary system, but New Zealand will continue to encourage change.

Mr Goff's comment comes after a visit by a delegation from Tonga, to look at how New Zealand's parliamentary system works, and how it might be relevant to them.

The Minister says New Zealand strongly believes in having an accountable and transparent system, and they will encourage Tonga to look at it carefully, for obvious reasons.

"That means if you want to change your government you can change it, but you can't in Tonga. It's not for us as a bigger country to tell a smaller country precisely what they should do. The Tongan people have to make that decision for themselves, but clearly we are pointing out the benefits of having a system that is a truly democratic system. One in which you've got freedom of expression."