John Key stands by 'get some guts' outburst

Parliament has ruled the Prime Minister's call to Labour leader Andrew Little to "get some guts and join the right side" was not out of order.

During Question Time in the House this afternoon, John Key said he "absolutely" stands by the call, over his decision to deploy non-combat forces to train Iraqi security forces.

New Zealand will send 143 personnel to Iraq to assist the international effort to combat Islamic State (IS). Of those, 16 will be helping train the Iraqi armed forces, the rest providing protection and logistical support.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei asked if Mr Key stood by comments made in the House yesterday, where he told Labour leader Andrew Little to “get some guts and join the right side”.

"Absolutely I do," he said.

Ms Turei then asked how he justified sending troops against IS while negotiating a trade deal with Saudi Arabia "where children are imprisoned for life and publicly flogged", or sending aid to Indonesia where she said the regime is "shooting children dead in their school uniforms".

Mr Key said New Zealand still negotiates free trade deals with countries that have human rights concerns, but said her statement on Indonesia sounded "fairly outrageous".

In response to her question on why New Zealand did not intervene in Nigeria against terror group Boko Haram, Mr Key said Iraq had specifically asked for hands-on help.

"We believe…we are supporting not only the people in that region, but we're also supporting New Zealanders themselves."

Mr Little then went head-to-head with Mr Key, questioning whether the deployment will take more than two years and involve more than just training.

Mr Key answered: "Yes and no".

"Yesterday the Government laid out clearly its contribution in the military capability in Iraq – that is the extent of what I see us doing and it’s a shame that the Opposition didn't have the courage to support it."

Mr Little replied Mr Key yesterday "got away with" alleging Opposition members did not have courage, but to say it explicitly today was against standing orders.

However, Speaker David Carter said while Mr Key's comments yesterday were "certainly robust" they were not out of order.

He acknowledged Mr Key's answer to Mr Little's question about the length of deployment was unhelpful, and invited him to ask it again.

On the second reading of the question, Mr Key said two years is the "expectations of our military contribution".

Mr Key could not provide a guarantee Iraqi troops trained by New Zealand would not go on to share that training with Islamist militant group Hezbollah, the Syrian regime, or to commit war crimes.

"The member is asking me to give guarantees that no leader could," Mr Key said.

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source: newshub archive