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McKinnon must stay as Commonwealth Secretary General.

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Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs


The Federal Opposition supports the efforts of Foreign Minister Downer and New Zealand Foreign Minister Goff in defending Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon from a Harare-led push to oust him from that position.

The brutal Mugabe regime has overseen the displacement of thousands of farmers and has left a country in the grip of famine.

Robert Mugabe’s regime has denied Zimbabweans the right to democracy. Most recently, Mugabe’s suppression of free newspapers further highlights the tough stance the world community must take against him and his regime.

Secretary General McKinnon has led the charge to impose sanctions on the Mugabe regime, including Zimbabwe’s suspension from the Commonwealth, which was extended this year.

Labor has been critical of the Howard Government in the past over its stance on Zimbabwe. In particular Labor has argued against:

! The Howard Government’s procrastination on the imposition of targeted sanctions against the Mugabe regime;

! The double standards the Howard Government has used in the case of Iraq as opposed to the case of Zimbabwe; and

! John Howard’s inability to show any leadership on Zimbabwe during his position as Head of the Commonwealth Troika on Zimbabwe.

Labor does, however, support Foreign Minister Downer’s push to keep Secretary General Don McKinnon in his current position. This is a positive and necessary move if the people of Zimbabwe are to be one day freed from the oppression that they currently face.

Ends. 7 October 2003

Further information: Kevin Rudd, MP 0418 796 931 or Alister Jordan 0417 605 823