Labour leadership candidates reject Key's IS plan

  • 09/11/2014

Prime Minister John Key's plan to help fight Islamic State in Iraq by sending military trainers has been unanimously voted down by Labour's leadership contenders.

They say the Prime Minister is fooling people by promising troops would be in non-combat roles and that, despite his assurances, our military could eventually end up fighting.

Stable leadership hasn't been Labour's strong suit of late. In a little over a week one of the four contenders will take it on. But the bigger challenge is taking on Mr Key and his moves to send troops to Iraq.

Mr Key has ruled out sending troops or elite SAS soldiers into combat against Islamic State, promising that any involvement would be strictly training and away from the danger of the frontline.

"He's playing us for fools if he's calling one a training operation and not combat," says leadership candidate Andrew Little.

"We know that when New Zealand forces go over to train other forces they'll inevitably be drawn into the conflict," says candidate Grant Robertson.

"You can't guarantee that they won't be participating," says leadership candidate Nanaia Mahuta.

"I think we should be a bit hesitant to put people into training roles," says David Parker.

In building the case against IS and foreign fighters, laws are being changed. The Prime Minister is making spies more powerful. The SIS will be able to trespass onto private property for video surveillance. It could even do so without a warrant for up to 48 hours.

This is where Labour's four-way leadership is split.

"There could be circumstances where you need to urgently do something without a warrant," says Mr Parker. "I don't think it's necessary for 48 hours; 24 hours would be better."

"That makes me cautious," says Ms Mahuta.

"If the case made out, then yeah might have to [change the laws], says Mr Little.

"I don't accept warrantless surveillance, and if that amounts to a small erosion of rights, then I just don't accept that," says Mr Robertson.

The leadership hopefuls are more likely to support Mr Key's other plan to cancel passports of would-be foreign fighters for up to three years. Mr Key is looking for cross-party support to back his decision on Iraq.

But despite taking a soft approach, saying troops would be trainers, restricted to the classroom away from the fighting, that doesn't sit with any of Labour's potential leaders.

As it is, none of them support military action in Iraq.

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source: newshub archive