PM’s triumph on the world stage takes the spotlight off shabby stuff at home (at least, for now)

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says the meeting between the Prime Minister and the US President in New York this morning is a diplomatic coup.

“Securing a 25-minute long meeting with the US President during the UN Leaders Week is an achievement in its own right given the pressure on the President’s scheduleAll the more remarkable was the level of attendance on the American side. The President was accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and the newly appointed National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.What is clear is a very positive discussion was held on a range of international issues and areas of shared interest, including on advancing our bilateral trade interests.

“In the world of diplomacy, this level of engagement is gold. The President’s meeting also followed a meeting with the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and the Prime Minister’s representation of NZ on climate change, and the Christchurch Call.The so called mega-Monday has been a very good day for delivery of NZ interests on the world stage”.

 The  deputy  Prime  Minister,  who sometimes   gives  the impression he  regards   Ardern as  his protégé,  didn’t  resile   from  his initial  reaction.  In fact he reinforced  it    when asked a   question   in Parliament.

We reproduce here the full text  so  as to reflect    the sublime   heights  to  which Peters  thinks  Ardern’s  diplomacy reached.

From Hansard –

 KIRITAPU ALLAN (Labour) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his Government’s policies and actions?

PETERS: Yes, and, once again, it’s a real pleasure to be held to account in this House.

ALLAN: What reports has he seen on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s trip to the United States?

PETERS: I thank the member for a very, very good question. The reality is, the Prime Minister had a stellar meeting with not only the President of the US but the Vice-President of the US, Mike Pence; the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo; and the National Security Adviser, Robert O’Brien—altogether, in the same room. The most impressive meeting that there’s ever been with the US where this country is concerned, and, dare I say it, since a request was made way back in 1939—and I wasn’t there—by Walter Nash, the then – Minister of Finance, for the US to have a free-trade agreement with NZ. The US is listening, and the President’s comments were absolutely and totally positive.

ALLAN: How have these trips benefited NZ’s relations with its international partners?

PETERS: That’s a superb question as well. The reality is that the Prime Minister on this trip has been, as you know, first to Japan—the third-biggest economy in the world—then the US—the biggest economy in the world—

Members : China!

PETERS: I beg your pardon? No, Simon went to China. The most sycophantic—

SIMON  Bridges: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

PETERS: —palm-licking trip I’ve ever seen—

Bridges: Point of order.

SPEAKER: Order! Prime Minister, when there’s a point of order one sits down.

BRIDGES: Questions from one’s own side shouldn’t be used to attack the Opposition.

SPEAKER: Well, I think it’s fair to say that the attack came as a result of an interjection from behind the member.

PETERS: I was endeavouring to talk about the Prime Minister’s most successful trip to Japan, the third-biggest economy—

Members: China!

PETERS: No, the person who keeps getting China wrong is Mr Simon Bridges, who has been described by the Mood of the Boardroom in today’s paper as the second least popular member of the National Party caucus—the second least—and has he got some competition to get there. But he made it all the way to the second least popular. The Prime Minister has had a mega Monday with the power structure of the United States in New York, and with the President of the United States turning to his staff and saying, on the question of a free-trade agreement, “Why don’t we get on with it?”.It is the most positive news this country’s heard for a long, long time. It will enable us to face so much more—our infrastructure and social welfare policy going into the future. In short, there is one Government that knows where the future lies, and you’re looking at it.

ALLAN: Supplementary to that very informative answer, what reports has he seen on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s trip to Japan?

PETERS: Wonderful question. Again, a stunningly successful story of a Prime Minister going over there who’s got respect, because her country has a new arrangement with Japan, where we work so closely in the Pacific and elsewhere, where we are more aligned than we’ve ever been, for decades, and the Prime Minister, I have to say, went, of course, there—and, of course, the All Blacks were there at the same time—so on every count it was a most successful trip, to be followed up shortly by the Minister of Finance and, dare I say it, somebody else later on..

Clearly, as  Point of  Order  sees it,  all  that stuff   about Ardern failing to deal appropriately   with allegations of  a   sexual attack levelled  against  a  Labour Party  staffer  in her office  has  been  submerged    by  the  triumph    of the  New  York  mission.

Or  has it?

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