2 Feb 2012

Missing pages in briefing paper a farce - Labour

3:42 pm on 2 February 2012

Labour describes the release of a ministerial briefing paper on foreign affairs as a farce.

Foreign Affairs spokesperson Phil Goff says about 16 of the 26 pages in the briefing paper are blanked out, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trades' priorities and its programme on overseas aid.

He says minor deletions on sensitive issues could be expected in a foreign affairs document, but wholesale deletion is unprecedented.

Mr Goff says New Zealanders have a right to know how their money is being spent and what the Ministry's priorities are.

He says the Government is being arrogant about what it wants the public to know.

Censorship for diplomatic and security reasons

However, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, says there is nothing unusual about parts of the briefing paper being withheld.

Mr McCully says the material withheld was agreed between the Ministry and a staff member in his office.

He says parts of a foreign affairs briefing are often censored for reasons of international relations and security.

The post-election briefing paper in 2008 was released in whole.