Confusion and complexity characterise the world into which our PM is headed

PM Jacinda Ardern heads  into a world that has become more challenging, divisive and complex when she jets off to the World Economic Forum in Davos and a round of European calls. Rarely has a NZ PM been confronted by such a confusing global situation.

First, Europe is convulsed by two major challenges, the future of Brexit and the slow-down in the European economy which has given nationalists fresh ammunition.

Second, China and the US are inching towards an  economic and strategic confrontation.

At home US President Donald Trump is facing incoming tides of confusion and uncertainty.  The New York Times has put the focus on his five meetings with Russia’s Vladimir Putin of which no substantial record exists. Continue reading “Confusion and complexity characterise the world into which our PM is headed”

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Globalisation focus at Davos (among other things) should lure Ardern to Europe

Hard on the heels of our previous post about political globe-trotting, let the record show Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is expected to visit the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, at the end of the month.

She’s a tyro in global economics, sure, but the conference should be worthwhile for her,  particularly  given   its focus this year on aspects of globalisation and their consequences.  Moreover, she will move among the major global economic and foreign policy players, including (probably) President Donald Trump.

Her attendance would also reinforce her policy platform against some of the less global trade-minded and economically illiterate members of the Coalition government. Continue reading “Globalisation focus at Davos (among other things) should lure Ardern to Europe”

A mood of anticipation has been created – Ardern now must deliver

After  a  year  in  which  the  Labour-NZ  First  coalition  settled into  office  and  those  who had never  expected  to  sight the  inside of the Cabinet room were adjusting to  their new riding instructions,  the mood of the country  is  now anticipatory. 

The   government  has  generated a  sense  of change,  if  only   by its  ministers  harping on  about  “ nine years of  neglect”.  It’s a theme  that  may come back to  haunt  them.

For  change  itself   can be  unsettling.  Politically,  New  Zealanders prefer stability. They are  not  revolutionaries.

That’s why  Grant Robertson has  kept a   steady  hand on the   tiller,  eschewing  the  drastic  economic  reform   those  on the fringes  call  for.  Continue reading “A mood of anticipation has been created – Ardern now must deliver”

It’s the year for all those reports to demand decisions

The  Labour-NZ First  coalition  must have been  agreeably  surprised on  completing the year  with  so many  encomiums  from the  pundits  on  its performance.  And with the economy chugging along  at  a useful, though uneven,  pace  the   government  could look back on  2018  with a  great  deal of  satisfaction (as  the  NZ Herald  contended).

But will  2019   be  as  easily navigated?

For this is the  year  of  decision.  The reports  from the scores of   reviews   the government has  ordered will be  piling up on ministerial  desks.  How  well  equipped  is  the coalition to  deal  with them?

Some   insights might  be  found   in  how  Cabinet   operated in  the year past.  Every   ministry  has  its duds  and  Prime  Minister  Jacinda Ardern’s team  is  no  exception,  with  Clare  Curran  and  Meka Whatiri leading the way and Iain Lees-Galloway deserving, but escaping,  the  drop-kick.

But  Ardern   herself  starred   both at  home and  abroad.  Her   ratings in  political  polls  stayed  astonishingly  high.  Across  the Tasman,  she stirred  envy   in  Canberra  where there is a revolving door into the  prime minister’s office.   And there  were accolades at  home:  Tracy  Watkins in  the  Dominion-Post wrote  “The Prime  Minister is at the height of her powers… her international cachet   is huge”.   Continue reading “It’s the year for all those reports to demand decisions”

Up periscope – and let’s take a peep at the 2019 global outlook

With the Black Caps in magnificent record-setting form is there any need to worry about 2019?  Well, yes there is and we have harnessed the resources of our world-wide network of correspondents to assess prospects for the next 12 months.

In a  three part  series  Point of Order  pushes   up  its  periscope  to  scan the  horizon.

First, how does it look  internationally?

Global trade, European security, China-US relations all cloud the scene. Continue reading “Up periscope – and let’s take a peep at the 2019 global outlook”

UN compact: Peters’ supporters fear he hasn’t put NZ First

Deputy PM Winston Peters has lit  a firestorm  in his own support base  over  the government’s decision to sign the controversial UN Migration Compact—a  move  National   says  it  will overturn.

NZ First’s  Facebook  page  went into overdrive as  one-time NZ  First voters voiced their anger.  After all, NZ  First  campaigned strongly   against  the previous  government’s  immigration policies  and  stood  out in demanding  stricter controls on  migration.

Now the party appears willing to  adopt the UN’s  rules on open, regular migration.

So  did  Peters  miscalculate?  In  Parliament   he had been using the UN compact to  bait  National,  because it  was the government  in 2016 when offering support as the compact was being initiated. Continue reading “UN compact: Peters’ supporters fear he hasn’t put NZ First”

MFAT’s prestige is expected to bloom again, now the ministry has gone to Seed

Chris  Seed  has been  confirmed  as  Secretary  of  Foreign Affairs  & Trade,  as Point of Order   earlier foreshadowed.  An experienced diplomat, he succeeds  Brook Barrington  who  the State Services  Commission named as CEO of the  Department of  Prime Minister &  Cabinet.

Seed,  who  recently  returned to NZ  after  serving  a  five-year term  as High Commissioner to  Canberra,   is  expected  to   work  closely   with  Foreign  Minister   Winston Peters on his Pacific Reset   policies.

His  appointment  is  understood  to  have been  extremely  well received  by  senior staff  in MFAT, whose  morale  was  severely bruised    during the era of  John Allen   as  CEO.     It is  known  that Peters   has been   keen  to  return  MFAT   to  the   slot   it  enjoyed   before the Allen era    as one of the  key  sources of   advice  to  Cabinet, not  just  on   foreign and trade  policies but  in other   areas  of   national  security. Continue reading “MFAT’s prestige is expected to bloom again, now the ministry has gone to Seed”