22 Nov 2022

National Party 'absolutely' backs opportunity for MPs to hear Ukraine PM Volodymyr Zelensky speak

1:08 pm on 22 November 2022
In this handout picture taken and released by the Ukrainian Presidency Press Office early on March 14, 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a video address in Kyiv. -

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Photo: AFP / Ukrainian presidential press service

The prime minister says all parties will have the chance to consider the invitation that's been extended to Ukraine's president, to address New Zealand's Parliament.

That would likely involve Volodymyr Zelensky speaking to MPs here, via video link.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon said his party "absolutely" backed the opportunity to hear from Zelensky.

"If he has capacity and time to be able to talk to New Zealand Parliament, that would be absolutely fantastic. We know that war is illegal, it's immoral, it's completely wrong and we stand with our international partners."

Christopher Luxon

National Party leader Christopher Luxon. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Jacinda Ardern said there was an approach from the consul-general, based out of Australia, which then prompted the invitation.

"The ask has been made, happy to accommodate, but ultimately it will be just a decision, those finer details are for the business committee because it is for Parliament as a whole, given it would be addressing Parliament as a whole."

Zelensky would become just the second head of a foreign government to address New Zealand's Parliament, after Australia's Julia Gillard in 2011.

A consistent feature of his addresses to other parliaments was a plea for more support, including arms and funding.

Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Ardern said in "every conversation" she's had with Ukrainian leadership, "whether it's the prime minister or the president, there has first and foremost been an acknowledgement of the significant contribution New Zealand has made", including the support for rebuilding and reconstruction.

There was also an understanding, she said, that New Zealand was "not a nation that has a large military arsenal waiting in the wings ... so they have been very grateful for what we've done".

Luxon said National had backed the government's response so far, and would support any extra contributions that were needed.

"If there's more that's needed to do, we're also very supportive to do that, that will really be contingent upon what capabilities we uniquely can bring to the community and to the partners that we are with in this."

A date has not yet been set, but Ardern said the hope was the address would happen before the House rose for the summer break.

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