Question of the Week: Will New Zealand be expelled from Five Eyes, following Nanaia Mahuta’s speech on foreign policy?
NZ Herald’s political editor Audrey Young, in a report on Thursday, wrote:
“NZ faces the prospect of expulsion from the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, according to Con Coughlin, defence editor for the Daily Telegraph in the UK.
Coughlin said attempts by the other Five Eyes countries (Britain, the US, Canada and Australia) to present a united front against China have been thwarted by the NZ government’s preference for maintaining cordial ties with Beijing.
He referred to Jacinda Ardern as “NZ’s tiresomely woke Prime Minister”, saying she has a preference for “cosying up to China’s communist rulers”.
“Thanks to Wellington’s naïve decision to prioritise trade with China over its membership of the elite Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network, Ardern can expect her country’s isolation to deepen even further as NZ faces the very real prospect of expulsion over its pro-Beijing stance”.
Point of Order is aware Coughlin is a highly respected operator in his field. He has close contacts not only within the UK Ministry of Defence in London but also in Downing Street and across the river in the offices of the intelligence agencies themselves.
And there is little doubt the prospect of NZ’s expulsion is being watched closely in both Berlin and Tokyo, where those respective governments would be eager to step into any vacancy.
But we don’t think the Five Eyes partners will consider expulsion. The real risk is the NZ will be frozen out of high-level stuff, as happened after NZ dipped out of Anzus when David Lange took NZ into its anti- nuclear posture.
NZ leaders, as they did for 20 years from 1984, will never know what they miss.
It took years of careful diplomacy to get NZ fully back on board the Five Eyes network.
Now, in the Wellington beltway, the question is being asked: Is this a Cabinet decision? Just what is the PM’s position? Or is this a case of a minister new to the job exploring life with the taniwha and dragon?
The whole affair underlines the perils of putting tyros into critical ministerial slots.
Already the gossip among senior officials is that Mahuta is difficult to engage with on foreign issues. Apparently Customs officials found her exactly like this when she held that portfolio, and they would spend hours as she circled around any issue they raised.
One thing is certain: Mahuta’s next pronouncements on foreign policy, if they continue to venture into uncharted territory, will be studied line by line not just by diplomats stationed in Wellington but in capitals round the world.
One thought on “Dragons-and-taniwha speech raises questions about NZ’s future in Five Eyes – and about the extent of Cabinet’s endorsement”
The desire not to offend China stems from Ardern’s ambition for a top UN job, which China could veto, apparently. In any case New Zealand’s interests come a very poor second.