Funding fuss must be weighed against Peters’ ministerial performance – and on the world stage he has been acclaimed

Can Winston Peters,  as   he has  done  so  often  before,  confound his  critics?   He  has  been  under intense  pressure  over  revelations  in  Matt Shand’s  Stuff   reports   on  donations channelled   through  the  NZ First  Foundation  Trust.

But Peters insists  the Electoral Commission, after investigating questions about loans made to the NZ First Party by the foundation will find that  everything is  in order.

And  even  if the  commission   were to  find   there has been a  breach,  could  it   derail   NZ  First?   Or its   leader?

After all,  Peters  has been  here   before—and  survived.

Here  at  Point of  Order  we   do  not pretend to  be   experts  on  the  ethics   of  political  donations to  NZ  First  any more   than of those   to  other  political  parties.    Or,  for  that matter, charging   $1500  to  those   who  want to  attend  a  dinner in the  presence  of  the   PM?

What  counts  for  the majority   of  voters    when they cast  their ballots  is what, if  anything,  politicians   have accomplished.  Or  what they promise.

Dispassionate  observers looking  at  how  Peters  has  performed   both  as  deputy  PM  and   Minister of  Foreign Affairs  would  mark   him well.

Last  week,  Peters   was the  first   NZ  minister  ever to  attend a   G20 meeting.

The G20 process brings together some of the world’s most powerful countries, and provides a platform for discussion of the challenges facing the international community including  this year a slowing global economy, increased protectionism, challenges to the international rules-based order, and climate change.

As  Peters  himself  noted, it was a distinct privilege to be the first NZ Foreign Minister to participate in a G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting, and to bring the  NZ perspective to the table on the issues that are central to the  Pacific region.  The  invitation was extended  in October  when  Peters visited  Japan.

We have  worked really hard to establish a  special relationship with the  Japanese…I think our relationship is  way above whatever we’ve had”

He  made  the case for countries to continue to reduce barriers to trade, which he  regards  as essential to continue lifting people out of poverty in the Pacific, and the broader Indo-Pacific.  He was also able to underline the importance of collective action on climate change – an issue which is an existential threat to some of our Pacific neighbours.

His  performance  at  Nagoya   in  Japan   enhanced   his  already  extensive    range of contacts  among his peers.  He  had a  busy programme of bilateral meetings with counterparts from Germany, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore. He also met with Spain’s Foreign Minister, Josep Borrell Fontelles, who will soon become the European’s Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

His  performance  at  Nagoya   in  Japan   enhanced   his  already  high  standing   not  just  with the  Japanese  but  also  the  US,   where  he is  on  the best of terms  with  US  Secretary of  State  Mike  Pompeo.

NZ’s  “Pacific  Reset”   dovetails with  Japan’s  Indo-Pacific Vision.  The subtext for both is to try to restrict  China’s influence  in the region.

But  Japan  also finds  NZ   useful    as it   seeks   to  ensure   the WTO  maintains   its  role    in the battle   against protectionism,  particularly because  the  Trump administration  has sought to  limit the powers  of  WTO  dispute  resolution.

Displaying  the   stamina   for   which he  is becoming renowned,  Peters    returned  briefly  to  Wellington   from  Japan  to chair   Cabinet  last  Monday   before – next day – taking  wing   on an  official  visit to the United  Arab Emirates.

Peters  says   NZ enjoys a dynamic and wide-ranging relationship with the UAE.

The UAE is an important partner for NZ in the Gulf region, our 10th largest trading partner and a hub for air links and trade with Europe and the wider region.The UAE  is also a strong supporter of NZd in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Christchurch.

 Peters is meeting with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

This visit is an opportunity to deepen our extensive cooperation, particularly in the areas of trade, development and security; to exchange views on the political and security situation in the Middle East; and to share NZ’s insights into Pacific issues.

Peters will  meet with Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Expo Dubai 2020 Higher Committee, and visit the NZ Pavilion construction site.

He  sees  NZ’s participation in Expo 2020 as an unparalleled opportunity to highlight and promote NZ globally as an innovative, knowledge-led economy.

Not  surprisingly   Peters  is  much  admired  by  his own officials in the  Ministry of  Foreign  Affairs and  Trade  where  he  has  been  instrumental in restoring   its morale,  not  least  in  eschewing  former  politicians  as  candidates  for  diplomatic  roles   and instead   relying  on  MFAT specialists to  fill  key posts, as  with  deputy  secretary  Bede Corry  being  nominated to be  High Commissioner to the  UK in place of Sir  Jerry  Mateparae.

So    in  all  his  complexity   as a  politician,  Peters   has  his  virtues.  Whether these outweigh  his  faults is   a matter on  which  each of us  can make our own judgements.

3 thoughts on “Funding fuss must be weighed against Peters’ ministerial performance – and on the world stage he has been acclaimed

  1. NZ Ministers including the PM (Key) attended the G20 in Sydney in 2015. Peters is either misinformed or telling fibs. I was there in 2015. NZ also attended the B20 in Sydney that year. It’s a partner meeting with the G20.

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  2. Erratum the B20 was in Sydney and G20 in Brisbane in 2014. NZ Ministers attended. Key in particular. Winnie is wrong to claim a First for NZ.

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