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Key Rejects Labour's `Dirty Tricks' Accusation

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, April 28 NZPA - The Government tonight rejected a Labour party claim that it was using dirty tricks in the Mt Albert by-election -- before the campaign has started and before either party has chosen a candidate.

The by-election to fill the seat left vacant by former Prime Minister Helen Clark takes place on June 13.

Labour has eight nominations and will make its choice on Sunday, with David Shearer likely to come out on top.

Mr Shearer has previously been a Labour candidate and was an adviser to party leader Phil Goff when Mr Goff was foreign minister.

His most recent job was working in Iraq as a senior UN official.

Today right-wing blog sites carried sections of a paper he wrote in 1998 arguing that the UN and western governments should consider hiring private military armies -- mercenaries -- for peacekeeping missions.

"Where civilians are preyed upon by rebel groups or their own governments, other options deserve to be put into the mix," he wrote.

"If nothing else, military companies offer another arrow in the quiver of international response."

Prime Minister John Key said Labour was in "a hypocritical position" because it claimed during last year's election campaign that National had a secret privatisation agenda.

"Their new poster boy for Mt Albert wants to privatise the army," Mr Key said.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman, who is contesting the by-election, said mercenaries had been "a disaster" when they had been used in war-torn countries like Iraq.

"I don't think it's a very good idea," he said.

Labour's deputy leader, Annette King, said National had trawled through Mr Shearer's research papers and fed them to the bloggers.

A spokesman for Mr Key said the papers were not fed to bloggers.

"The first we knew about them was when we were approached by media organisations," the spokesman said.

Ms King said the papers looked at the use of private security in war torn nations where innocent civilians, mostly women and children, were dying and there were no better alternatives.

"National and John Key's dishonest attempt to discredit one of eight potential Labour candidates shows the Government's eyes are off the ball when they should be focusing on jobs and the upcoming budget."

Mr Goff said National was showing how scared it was of potential candidates such as Mr Shearer.

NZPA PAR pw kn

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