5 Mar 2012

Cairo consul job to go, says Labour

8:22 pm on 5 March 2012

The Labour Party says it understands the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade staff member that assisted a Northland mother in Algeria has had her job position cut.

Labour claims the consul from Cairo, Barbara Welton, will have to reapply for her job under the Government's proposed restructuring at the ministry.

In February this year, the consul helped Mihi Puriri, who says the father of her three children ripped up the family's passports when they arrived in Algeria last year and still holds the children captive.

Ms Puriri says Ms Welton and New Zealand consul staff tried to get her children back with the help of about 10 security officers, but with no success.

Labour Party leader David Shearer says the case demonstrates how important it is to have New Zealand diplomats based overseas to provide assistance.

But Prime Minister John Key says final decisions have not been taken and Labour is getting ahead of itself.

Mr Key says New Zealand will continue to have diplomatic support available in Egypt.

He says it is his expectation that whatever happens, a person finding themselves in a position similar to Ms Puriri would continue to get support from a New Zealander.