Countryaah official website, Jenny Shipley's government survived by a
margin of confidence in February. The vote had been preceded
by strong criticism of Tourism Minister Murray McCully, who
was accused of going beyond his powers in the context of an
extensive advertising campaign for the country's tourism
A new law that allows the authorities to detain illegal
immigrants and to prosecute refugee smugglers was adopted in
May in anticipation of the expected arrival of 102 Chinese
When Bill Clinton visited the country in September, the
US president lifted the US ban on joint US-New Zealand
military exercises. This was introduced in 1986 in response
to New Zealand's decision not to allow nuclear weapons or aircraft to
visit the country.
The election was a success for the Labor Party, which
received 52 seats, compared with 37 in the 1996 elections.
The Nationalist Party went from 44 to 41 seats, while the
Alliance Party received eleven seats. After nine years, the
Conservative government was handed over power to a
center-left coalition led by Labor leader Helen Clark. The
new coalition government, however, only had 59 of the
Parliament's 120 seats, and the Green Party was given a
Clark and her party promised a small tax increase in
favor of welfare policy initiatives. Defense cuts were also
included in Labour's program.
At the same time as the election, two advisory
referendums were held, with a large majority voting for
harsher penalties for violent crimes and for reducing the
number of MPs from 120 to 99.