14 Apr 2004

Tonga says New Zealand select committee enquiry just politicking

4:09 pm on 14 April 2004

The Tonga Government says a New Zealand Parliamentary select committee inquiry into New Zealand's relationship with Tonga is just politicking and it won't have anything to do with it.

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee inquiry was set up after the Tongan Government adapted its constitution to allow for new media laws which have widely been seen as limiting media freedom.

New Zealand's aid contribution to Tonga is expected to be a feature of the inquiry.

It is due to begin sitting from next month to hear nearly 80 submissions - many from Tongans living in New Zealand.

But Tonga's acting Prime Minister Clive Edwards is asking why New Zealand is not investigating its relationship with other Pacific nations, many of which, he says, get more New Zealand aid money than Tonga.

"It has come to a point where we feel that they are playing on aid spending and playing politics on it, for no reason at all, and as a consequence, we will distance ourselves completely from this select committee - we are not going to have anything to do with it."