John Key was misleading New Zealanders prior to the election when he ruled out New Zealand special forces being deployed to Iraq, says Labour Defence Spokesperson Phil Goff.
“Post-election he has cynically disregarded that by saying that deployment of the SAS to Iraq is now ‘definitely an option’
“Clearly he was not telling the truth to New Zealanders to stop public debate on the issue during the election campaign.
“The cynicism continued right up to last week when the Prime Minister was claiming that a Washington meeting attended by New Zealand’s Chief of Defence Force was just a ‘regular meeting’. In fact the Pentagon said it was to define missions for partner nations in the conflict. Mr Key has now been forced to admit that it was not a regular meeting.
“John Key has raised expectations with the United States that New Zealand will contribute Kiwi troops to the conflict. His coyness around the subject is simply part of softening New Zealanders up for his change in position.
“He needs now to explain why he did not tell New Zealanders the truth from the start.
“Putting the lives of Kiwi soldiers at risk by deploying them into a conflict is the most serious decision a Government can take. New Zealanders and parliamentarians had the right to expect Mr Key to be open and transparent with them about his intentions. Their trust in him to do so has been betrayed.
“It is sometimes necessary for a country to place its troops in harm’s way. Before doing so, it must be certain that there are worthwhile and achievable objectives.
“Sadly it appears John Key has made his decision without considering the evidence around this and without genuine consultation across Parliament,” Phil Goff said.