International activities, one way or another, have influenced several ministerial announcements over the weekend.
The best news was that our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nanaia Mahuta, at long last had left the country to engage in the work of being a Minister of Foreign Affairs on foreign soil. She met with Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Marise Payne, in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains for the biannual Australia-New Zealand Foreign Minister Consultations.
Obviously there was much to talk about (which would have taken the Minister’s mind off Three Waters reform). The statement mentions:
- Strategic challenges in the Indo-Pacific, the preservation of “the liberal international order” to underpin stability and prosperity in the region and foster a sustainable regional balance where all countries – large and small – can freely pursue their legitimate interests.
- Their strong support for open, rules-based trade based on market principles.
- The role of the Pacific Islands Forum in projecting a strong and unified Pacific voice on the global stage.
- Their commitment to ASEAN centrality and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, the importance of regional partnerships to stability, security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, and the role of AUKUS in this network.
- Their commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
But it is a measure of a shift in our foreign affairs priorities that all of those issues followed Nanaia’s mention of something else (presumably therefore more important) in the second paragraph of her statement. She said the Ministers had welcomed the opportunity to meet again in person
“… to strengthen the special trans-Tasman relationship, which is one of whānau, and to acknowledge the unique role of the indigenous peoples of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand in the identity of both countries. The Ministers expressed their support for the ongoing trans-Tasman engagement under the Australia Aotearoa New Zealand Indigenous Collaboration Arrangement”.
The ministers’ agreement on the need for coordinated regional and global action on climate change, including working with Pacific partners to strengthen climate resilience, was mentioned much further down the batting order of issues mentioned in Mahuta’s statement.
This didn’t comfortably gel with a statement headed Govt will continue to show climate leadership from the Minister of Climate Change, James Shaw.
At the end of COP26 negotiations in Glasgow, he said it was well past time to move from talk to action in addressing the global climate emergency.
“For years we have been discussing the detailed rules that sit under the Paris Agreement. With much of that now finalised, countries can get on with the crucial work of implementation.”
“New Zealand will continue to lead by example here, and show the world what meaningful, ambitious and lasting climate action looks like,” James Shaw said.
Shortly before COP the Prime Minister and Shaw had announced a four-fold increase in the climate aid NZ has provided to the Pacific and other lower-income countries.
“Our Government will continue pushing for increased global support for Pacific countries suffering damage caused by climate impacts such as rising sea levels and more extreme weather,” James Shaw said.
The PM did her global thing from Wellington, chairing the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and promoting a name change for this country (over-riding strong poll support to stick with New Zealand) . Leaders from the 21 APEC economies agreed to “the new Aotearoa Plan of Action”.
This sets out a plan for APEC’s work through to 2040 and brings into consideration issues “like decarbonisation and empowering our Indigenous peoples”.
But in the PM’s statement, the issues have been listed in a different order than in Mahuta’s statement. She says APEC Leaders issued a joint declaration which recognised that in New Zealand’s host year APEC has:
- Rejected vaccine nationalism, with APEC members lowering tariffs on vaccines and related products to combat COVID-19, speeding them through customs, and shunning export bans
- Digitised trade processes to reduce paperwork and save businesses valuable time and money, with most of APEC making these measures permanent
- Taken practical steps to transition away from carbon, with APEC agreeing a plan to halt the increase in subsidies to fossil fuels that today amount to NZ$500 billion a year
- Highlighted Indigenous economies as a driver for recovery, bringing the perspective of the region’s 270 million Indigenous people inside APEC prominently for the first time ever
- Committed to find ways to cut red tape, reduce the cost of doing business, and make it faster to start a business.
Thailand will take over as host of APEC in 2022.
In other statements triggered by overseas happenings –
- Associate Foreign Minister Aupito William Sio announced New Zealand is sending a medical and logistics support team and essential supplies to assist Papua New Guinea with its COVID-19 crisis. Since the first COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, New Zealand has provided over $14 million in COVID-19 related support to Papua New Guinea.
- Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson congratulated the Black Caps “on an inspirational performance at the Twenty20 World Cup”. He said “The team has certainly punched above its weight on the world stage against some of the bigger cricketing nations”. We await his statement on the All Blacks defeat in Ireland.
- Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson expressed his pride in the staff at the Māori Language Commission after the International Public Relations Association’s international jury named the Māori Language Moment as the winner of its supreme award, the IPRA Grand Prix for Excellence. The judges were moved by the way New Zealanders were able to come together behind our indigenous language, even in the middle of a global pandemic, he said.
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Minister of Climate Change James Shaw marked the end of COP26 negotiations in Glasgow by saying it was well past time to move from talk to action in addressing the global climate emergency.
Aotearoa New Zealand is sending a medical and logistics support team and essential supplies to assist Papua New Guinea with its COVID-19 crisis, Associate Foreign Minister Aupito William Sio announced today.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern overnight chaired the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting where Leaders from 21 APEC economies agreed to the new Aotearoa Plan of Action.
Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, and Aotearoa New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs, Local Government and Associate Minister for Māori Development, Hon Nanaia Mahuta, have today held the biannual Australia-New Zealand Foreign Minister Consultations.
Nō te rā nei puta ai te pānuitanga a te Minita mō ngā Take Tiriti, a Andrew Little, kua waitohungia he Whakataunga Whakaaetanga i waenganui i a Te Ākitai Waiohua me te Karauna.