Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, enjoying her global celebrity status in Australia, has also succeeded in clawing back her poll ratings in New Zealand. According to the Roy Morgan poll, Labour has risen a couple of points to 33.5% while National has edged back a point to 39% since May.
On the Roy Morgan sampling, the Maori Party would hold the balance of power. Given the apparent distaste of that party’s two members in Parliament for parties of the Right, this could ensure Labour has another term .
Ardern brushed off a question on the ABC about her global celebrity status, saying her total focus was at home.
“That is what matters to me”.
Nevertheless her major speech in Australia, to the Lowy Institute, centred on NZ’s foreign policy and traced how far NZ has moved since Labour took office in 2017.
Ardern re-emphasised that NZ under Labour pursues an “independent” foreign policy.
At the same time she charted a change in Labour’s view of the United Nations. Whereas once it regarded the UN as the organisation through which to pursue world peace, the PM described it as “morally bankrupt” because of its failure over the war in the Ukraine.
Clearly this conviction has driven the Ardern government back towards sheltering under the US umbrella, as was evident in Ardern’s mission to the White House. Almost certainly, she is sharing with Australia’s Anthony Albanese the same realignment after their tours in Europe and attendance at the Nato meeting in Madrid.
Point of Order notes, too, that Defence Minister Peeni Henare in Wellington has announced a defence policy review
“… due to the intensification of geo-strategic competition”.
He says the government wants to ensure that New Zealand’s Defence policy, strategy, and planned capability investments “remain fit for purpose”.
“… we remain committed to ensuring that Defence have the policies and equipment they need to do their jobs.”
This is a significant shift since he earlier indicated the government’s priority was to improve defence infrastructure ( he doesn’t hesitate to claim credit for the work of our former Defence Minister, NZ First’s Ron Mark, for the investment of $4.5 billion in four new P-8A Poseidon aircraft, five new C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, and 43 Bushmaster vehicles).
In Sydney, while emphasising NZ had believed in using multilateral institutions to maintain the global “rules-based order”, Ardern said these organisations, including the UN, were imperfect and not immune to “moral failures”.
Russia, which is a permanent member of the Security Council, in February vetoed a resolution that would have demanded that Moscow immediately stop its attack on Ukraine and withdraw all troops.
More than four months later, the ongoing conflict has killed almost 5000 civilians, according to UN estimates.
Ardern said the UN had taken “a morally bankrupt position” on Ukraine, “in the wake of a morally bankrupt and illegal war”.
“Under these circumstances, waiting for our multilateral institutions to act was not an option for New Zealand,” she said.
“ We seek partnerships and approaches based on the second principle of our independent foreign policy, our values.”
Ardern said Russia needed to be “held to account” for its military action and called for improvements to be made to the UN.
“We must reform the United Nations so that we don’t have to rely on individual countries imposing their own autonomous sanctions,” she said.
“We must also resource the International Criminal Court to undertake full investigations and prosecution of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine.”
Ardern said New Zealand would intervene as a third party in Ukraine’s case against Russia in the International Court of Justice to ensure this happened.
She said global allies shouldn’t characterise the Ukraine conflict as a war of “the West versus Russia”, or “democracy versus autocracy”.
“It is not. Nor should we naturally assume it is a demonstration of the inevitable trajectory in other areas of geostrategic contest,” she said.
Ardern said she remained an optimist at heart despite the “grim” challenges facing the world.