7 Apr 2011

Labour warns NZ reputation at risk by diplomacy change

3:11 pm on 7 April 2011

The opposition Labour Party in New Zealand says the government's planned new approach to foreign affairs appointments risks damaging the country's reputation.

In a speech earlier this week the foreign minister Murray McCully revealed plans to bring in more people from outside the diplomatic service to head missions.

He'd drawn attention to advertisements placed for a new high commissioner to Kiribati.

But Labour's Marian Street says bringing in people from the private sector may not be in New Zealand's interests.

She also accuses the minister of cronyism in the appointment of former National MP Mark Blumsky to a tourism contract on Niue and making him high commissioner to the island.

"First the ODA [Overseas Development Assistance] contract was not tendered and secondly, he gets appointed into the position before that contract is even finished. So there is cronyism there which is not a hallmark of our diplomatic efforts around the world and I would be very concerned if this is how the government is going to proceed."