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24 February 2015
PM announces contribution to coalition against ISIL

Prime Minister John Key today announced a Government decision to deploy a military training mission to Iraq as part of New Zealand’s overall contribution to the international coalition against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

New Zealand’s military personnel will fulfil a non-combat, behind the wire mission to train Iraqi Security Forces so they are better prepared to fight ISIL.

“ISIL’s ability to motivate Islamist radicals make it a threat not only to stability in the Middle East, but regionally and locally too,” Mr Key says.

“New Zealanders are prolific travellers and we are not immune from the threat ISIL poses.

“ISIL’s brutality has only worsened and its outrageous actions have united an international coalition of around 62 countries to fight and degrade the group.

“We have carefully considered options to expand our contribution to the coalition beyond the humanitarian assistance we have already provided.

“We have an obligation to support stability and the rule of law internationally.

“The Iraqi government has requested support and Cabinet has agreed this week to deploy personnel to Taji Military Complex north of Baghdad to train units within the Iraqi Security Forces.

“This is likely to be a joint training mission with Australia although it will not be an ANZAC-badged deployment.

“The two year mission, likely to start from May, will be reviewed by Cabinet after nine months.

“The number of personnel deploying to Taji is up to 106 and there will be others such as staff officers deploying in coalition headquarters and support facilities in the region.

“The total number altogether will be up to 143.

“A training mission like this is not without danger and this is not a decision we have taken lightly.

“I have required assurances that our men and women will be as safe as they can practicably be in Taji.

“Our force protection needs have been assessed by NZDF and determined as being able to be met by the well-trained soldiers of our regular Army.

“So we will be sending our own force protection to support the training activities.

“The New Zealand Government will retain ultimate decision-making authority over the nature and scope of the activities of our personnel.

“We will be taking steps in coming weeks with our Iraqi counterparts to secure the best legal protections we realistically can for our personnel.

“We recognise that military training on its own will not solve the problems ISIL poses in Iraq.

“That’s why we are also stepping up our diplomatic efforts and are currently examining options to provide more humanitarian aid.

“In return we expect to see genuine effort in Iraq to move towards a law-abiding democratic country that treats all of its citizens with respect.”

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23 February 2015
PM welcomes Australian Prime Minister

Prime Minister John Key welcomes this week’s first official visit to New Zealand by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

“I am very pleased to be able to welcome Prime Minister Abbott to New Zealand. His visit will continue a long-standing tradition of regular and substantive contact between the Prime Ministers of our two countries,” says Mr Key.   

“During the visit we will hold our Annual Leaders’ meeting and discuss a range of political, economic, social and security issues, including advancing the single economic market, our engagement in regional trade initiatives and our cooperation on global defence and security issues.

“We will also mark significant milestones, including the Centenary of the First World War and the formation of the ANZACs, and Australia and New Zealand’s co-hosting of the Cricket World Cup.’’

The Prime Ministers and Ministers from both sides of the Tasman will participate in the Australia-New Zealand Leadership Forum on Friday which brings together Australian and New Zealand business and government leaders. This year the Leadership Forum celebrates its tenth anniversary.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will meet with Foreign Minister Murray McCully, and Australian Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb and Trade Minister Tim Groser will lead the annual Closer Economic Relations (CER) Ministerial Meeting.

During the visit the Prime Ministers will also lay a wreath at the Auckland War Memorial, attend the Australia v New Zealand Cricket World Cup match and meet with Rural Fire Service Officers who have served in Australia.

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23 February 2015
Anzac centenary commemorations planned

Prime Minister John Key has announced a week of Anzac commemoration events in Wellington marking the centenary of the First World War Gallipoli landings.

“In the last decade, the number of New Zealanders attending Anzac Day services has risen significantly and this year holds a special significance,” Mr Key said.

Centenary commemorations begin with the official opening of Pukeahu National War Memorial Park on Saturday April 18.

Mr Key said Pukeahu belonged to all New Zealanders and recognises service in all conflicts.

“It is a place to reflect on our country’s experience of war and military conflict and to honour the more than 30,000 New Zealanders who died, and the more than 300,000 who have served their country.”   

Mr Key said Pukeahu includes the Hall of Memories, Carillon and Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and sits on top of the new Arras traffic tunnel.

Other highlights of Anzac Week in Wellington include a street parade of First World War vehicles and a sound and light show.

The week will culminate in the Anzac Day Dawn Service and the National Service of Commemoration at Pukeahu.

“It’s a time to honour those who served, remember those who died and it’s also a chance to deepen our understanding of a formative event in New Zealand’s history.”

Further details of the Anzac Week programme will be announced shortly and can be found at: www.mch.govt.nz/anzacweek

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03 February 2015
Applications open for Great Rides funding

Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key has announced that further funding is now available for the improvement of New Zealand’s Great Rides.

Applications are now being accepted for the second round of funding available through the Maintaining the Quality of Great Rides Fund - a government initiative to maintain and enhance the Great Rides of Nga Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail.

“Last year the Government announced that it is investing $8 million over four years to help maintain the quality of the Great Rides, which are the premier rides on the New Zealand Cycle Trail,” says Mr Key.

“Nearly $1 million in funding has already been approved, with 13 projects granted a total of $970,000 in December 2014.”

The fund is contestable and applicants need to provide matching funding.

Mr Key says proposals that aim to improve the safety and quality of the Great Rides will be given priority for funding.

“The New Zealand Cycle Trail is a significant tourism asset for New Zealand and has an enviable reputation. It is vital that individual trails are maintained to the highest possible standard in order to continue providing an excellent and safe experience for riders.”

More information on the Maintaining the Quality of Great Rides Fund, including how to apply, is available at www.nzcycletrail.com/node/972

The deadline for applications is 28 February 2015.

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02 February 2015
Northland by-election date announced

Prime Minister John Key today announced the date for the by-election in Northland will be Saturday the 28th of March.

“This date gives parties sufficient time to prepare, while allowing the process to move ahead.”

Today’s announcement was made after the Prime Minister considered advice from the Electoral Commission.

The by-election Writ day will be Monday 23 February and the deadline for candidate nominations to be received will be midday on Tuesday 3 March. 

The last day for the return of the Writ will be Tuesday 14 April.